Chinese govt urges internet celebs to fulfill social responsibilities
Several internet celebrities or individuals who have hundreds of thousands of followers on China’s Twitter-like microblogs got a surprise call from the government recently. Suthirto Patranobis reports.world Updated: Aug 11, 2013 21:23 IST
Several internet celebrities or individuals who have hundreds of thousands of followers on China’s Twitter-like microblogs got a surprise call from the government recently.
Over the phone calls, officials urged the celebrities to fulfill their responsibilities as influential netizens who with their updates and status messages have the ability to mould opinion.
The phone call was not the end of the government’s effort to bring the celebrities within the fold; they were invited to attend a meeting last week where top officials were expected to meet them and further brief them.
China's social networks have developed fast in recent years with more than 1.2 billion accounts opened on about 103 microblogging networks, state media reported.
On Sina Weibo and t.qq.com, two leading social networks, the number of accounts, having the minimum 1 million followers, reached 3,300 and those having the minimum 10 million followers totaled about 200. The list includes authors, journalists, artists, actors, sportspersons and personalities from other fields as well.
This is being seen as another attempt by the government to bring China’s active and widening internet population under control.
Most celebrities didn’t turn up for the meeting; only about a dozen attended the meeting that was held on Saturday.
At the end of it, Lu Wei, director of the State Internet Information Office (SIIO), issued a statement, outlining what the government expected from them.
“Internet celebrities, who have notable influence on public opinions in virtual society, should deliver more positive and constructive messages to Chinese netizens,” Lu was quoted on Sunday by the state media as saying.
“They shall set an example of protecting the legal rights of citizens and denouncing any activities that harm the reputation and interests of other people,” he said.
The government expects them to uphold law and order as well as promote virtues and trust, said Lu, cited by a statement issued after the meeting.
What would happen, or what steps the government could take, if the celebrity net users didn’t follow the directions was left unsaid.
The state media did not name the celebrities who attended the meeting attributed a statement to them.
“They agreed that everyone should be responsible for what they say and do online as the Internet is also subject to laws and moral rules in the real world,” the SIIO statement said.