China's new media continues to be dominated by high-profile users in 2013 despite the country's campaign against online rumours, a report by a government think tank has shown.
About 300 high-profile micro-bloggers play a part in setting topics on the Internet, especially in emergency accidents and public issues, according to a report released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on Thursday.
Their influence tends to exceed that of government micro blogs and traditional media, according to the report in the Blue Book of China's Society: Society of China Analysis and Forecast (2014).
"Our report found that at least one-third of high-profile users play crucial roles in the launch of some online campaigns, and another one-third play a part in it," said Shan Xuegang, deputy secretary-general of the public opinion analysis office of people.com.cn.
Shan gave the example of a campaign to rescue street children and abducted children on the Sina Weibo micro-blogging service, a Twitter-like platform in China. The campaign was promoted by a number of high-profile users including actors Yao Chen and Zhao Wei and social critic Li Chengpeng. Each online celebrity has more than 10 million followers on their micro blog.
The high-profile users also magnify grassroots voices through their reposts and thus can pose challenges to traditional media.
"Normally a micro-blogger would only have friends as their followers and their message could only be spread inside a circle. However, if the message is reposted by a high-profile user, it could be seen by thousands," Shan said.
However, the transmission power is also apt to be misused as some would repost messages without verifying their accuracy and thus help spread rumours, he said.
"Some reposts from the high-profile users concern topics that they are not familiar with, and some are without any verification," he said.