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Online influencers need to exercise self-control

By ZHANG ZHOUXIANG | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-17 07:46

China is exploring the value of data as a factor of production to boost sustainable development. [Photo/VCG]

Had a woman surnamed Xu, who has tens of millions of followers on social networking sites, marked a video clip in which she claimed she found a Grade 1 student's winter holiday homework in a restaurant in Paris, as "fictional", the story would have made for a good, even laughable, joke.

But instead, she claimed the story was real, even fabricating the student's name, Qin Lang. There were some hiccups when someone cast doubts on Qin's non-existent school, but Xu kept it going as long as she could, claiming later she had found Qin's mother so the matter was closed. She even produced what she claimed was her WeChat conversation with Qin's mother.

The police fell for her story and wasted their time and resources investigating all students named Qin Lang in the mentioned region. When they found out that the whole thing was fabricated, they imposed a penalty on Xu and her company. Her accounts on various social media platforms have since been blocked, leading to her losing hundreds of millions of yuan going by what she charges for advertisements.

The incident underlines the need to ensure online influencers don't share false information or start rumors to get more likes and publicity.

Currently, short videos are extremely popular, but there is no way to regulate what is being posted. As a result, staged quarrels between a woman and her "mother-in-law" are sometimes passed off as news.
It is equally necessary to curb the impulse of internet celebrities to publish false information.

It was in this backdrop that the National Education Refutation Platform, managed by the Ministry of Education, was officially launched in March to identify rumors and provide clarifications.

Bloggers need to not only exercise self-control, but also enhance their social media literacy. The platforms should also strengthen their supervision, and enforce relevant laws and regulations, so that in the future, essential resources are not spent in looking for someone who doesn't exist.

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