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China's microblog media falls silent for first time

social media Updated: Apr 02, 2012 00:27 IST

China's influential microblogs, which over the last few years have emerged as a challenge to the monopoly of the state media, have fallen silent for the first time after being penalised over the spread of coup rumours.

Two major Chinese microblogging sites, and, known as Chinese Twitters with about 300 million microblogger subscribers have suspended comment functions after they were punished for allowing rumours to spread, state run Shanghai Daily reported.

They put up online announcements on Saturday suspending the comment function from March 31 to April 3 to clean up rumours and other illegal information spread through microblogging networks, following a crackdown for carrying postings, including pictures of battle tanks rolling down streets in Beijing, that sparked speculation of a coup.

The speculation went viral with rumours of infighting in the Communist Party leadership following the sacking of a party leader Bo Xilai.

Chinese authorities have closed 16 websites and detained six people responsible for "fabricating or disseminating online rumours".

Beijing police also arrested 1,065 suspects and deleted more than 208,000 "harmful" online messages as part of an intensive nationwide crackdown on Internet-related crimes conducted since mid-February, according to the state run Xinhua news agency.

This is perhaps for the first time the Chinese government which was apprehensive about the emergence of the alternate media, cracked down on them, though a series of measures to regulate them were announced in the recent months.