Chinese Government Expects Responsible Internet Use by Celebrities

The remarks from officials come on the heels of singer Wu Hongfei's tweet about wanting to bomb Beijing's housing authority.

Chinese celebrities should be more aware of their moral responsibilities and use social networks in a constructive way to help influence other netizens positively, a senior government official said. "The government expects celebrity bloggers to uphold law and order as well as promote virtues and trust," said Lu Wei, director of the State Internet Information Office.

"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," stated by Lu on the state news agency Xinhua.

The remarks came after popular singer Wu Hongfei was arrested following a rather ill-advised tweet that she wanted to bomb Beijing's housing authority and a neighborhood committee.

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Her online outburst came shortly after a Beijing airport bombing incident last month, when a former motorcycle courier detonated a small handmade explosive device at Beijing airport, a desperate act after he failed to win redress for his claim on a 2005 police beating that left him paralyzed. Authorities said his claims lacked evidence.

Facebook and Twitter are banned in China, but local versions of the social networks, including Weibo and Wechat, are hugely popular.

There are over 100 micro-blogging networks with more than 1.2 billion active accounts.

Sina Weibo and QQ are the two biggest social networks, with the former having 3,300 accounts with more than one million followers while the latter has 200 accounts with more than 10 million followers.

According to a statement released after a meeting of Internet regulators, participants 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.

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Pan Shiyi, who is a highly public figure and one of China's biggest property developers with nearly 16 million followers on Weibo, wrote on his site that web celebs have a big influence. "Everyone is equal on the Internet. My responsibility is to tell the truth with conscience," he wrote.

He said he was testing the limits with his posts, but said: "If I didn’t control [it] well, the bricks are coming."

Meanwhile, Gu Yongqiang, president and CEO of the online video website Youku Tudou said that while the Internet was a platform to pursue the truth and be responsible, tweeting and sharing information was getting faster and faster.

"Everybody online should be responsible for their own original information. Besides that, they should be also responsible for sharing and tweeting," he wrote on his forum.