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China continues to restrict social media

The Chinese government has taken another step to restrict the use of social media platforms in the country, as it attempts to stop rumours circulating around the Internet about Bo Xilai.

Social sites in the country have been lit up over recent weeks with rumours since Mr Bo was ousted from the Chongqing Communist party, following his wife’s arrest in connection with the murder of British executive Neil Heywood.

Such rumours have been numerous, including one suggesting a military coup was on the horizon.

Now, the country’s largest microblogging service, Sina Weibo, has shut four accounts linked to rumours, following pressure from the authorities.

The company has also released a statement, saying:

“Sina Weibo calls on the many internet users to consciously abide by laws and regulations, not to pass on rumours, not to believe in rumours, to report it immediately when rumours are being spread, and to work together to protect a healthy internet environment and good social order.”

One of the accounts closed belonged to financial journalist Li Delin, whose post about gathering military vehicles in Beijing sparked talk of the military coup. Though he denied being responsible for the post, Mr Li has not been seen since 25th March.

Another account that was closed belonged to Wu Guancong. Having been arrested by Beijing authorities on 25th March, he too has not been seen or heard from since.

The move to close accounts is seen by many as a sign of anxiety in the ruling party of China. However, with many popular and accessible dissident websites based overseas continuing, it is unlikely the internal controls will have significant effect.

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