The Sina Weibo account of the US Consulate General in Shanghai has disappeared overnight, along with its 80,000-strong follower count. Consulate officials are still trying to figure out what happened, but a Sina Weibo spokesperson has plead ignorance, saying he was “waiting for replies from the… technical department.”
Weibo accounts for the other consulate-generals of the United States in Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenyang and Hong Kong, and the embassy in Beijing continued to operate normally.
Interestingly, a Global Times report on the incident gives us some hint as to what might have led to the suspension of the account:
In an entry in May, the US Consulate General in Hong Kong advised US diplomats in Shanghai not to repost an unidentified post. It could not be immediately verified what the information in the post related to.
Speculation appeared online suggesting that a post by the US Consulate General in Shanghai, which was responding to a Weibo user, “Shenzhen Laocui,” who appeared to have ridiculed and challenged the findings of a fire accident in Tianjin, could have been one possible reason for the problem.
Officials said a department store fire in Jixian county in Tianjin on June 30 killed 10 people. Police have punished several Web users for spreading rumors online exaggerating the death toll.
The speculation could not be confirmed by US diplomats on Thursday.