Digital Times (CDT) reports
new Chinese-language Twitter commentators have appeared in the last week. Twitter
is generally blocked in
"Some of these accounts have forged the names of activists and even included avatar photos of dissidents and activists," CDT reports. Yet the tone of the comments resembles that of the so-called "Fifty Cent Party," an informal name given to commentators hired by local government authorities to promulgate propaganda in online forums, according to CDT.
Several of the messages appear intended to discredit international news reports. One February 21 message, from user yiwannianaini, reposts other Twitter user links about the protests with the comment: "Once again, foreigners are stirring things up and trying to set Chinese people against each other." Another alongside a summary of a BBC Chinese news report reads, "Most information online is fake. Rumors!"
One foreign journalist, who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak for their news outlet, told CPJ by e-mail of a flood of personal threats and abuse received via Twitter in the past week--including death threats.
These concerning developments are reminiscent of pre-Olympics
Beijing in 2008, when at least 10 Beijing-based journalists were
anonymously threatened, and nationalistic commentators tore apart international
coverage of riots in
The official attitude toward the foreign press corps has not
evolved in the past three years. Jiang was on duty again Tuesday, responding to
journalists' outrage at the detentions
and assault they and colleagues met with while reporting at the site of
protests on Sunday. The Associated Press described the press conference as
"testy." Jiang "seemed to imply that reporters who went to the leisure spots in
The Foreign Ministry should condemn the use of
force by police and security officials on Sunday. It should also act to protect
international journalists who are the targets of online abuse. Information