As part of an ongoing campaign against ‘online rumours’ a number netizens have been arrested including Qin Zhihui and Yang Xiuyu who, as heads of ‘black PR’ firm Erma, allegedly manufactured the 2011 Guo Meimei Red Cross scandal.
The most sensational claim in the article is that Erma was responsible for manufacturing the Guo Meimei scandal, which “was actually a plot that was planned by Internet marketers and internet water armies”.
The story of the infamous Guo Meimei will likely be familiar to you. On 20 June 2011, Guo Meimei 郭美美 (real name Guo Meiling 郭美玲) posted photographs to Sina Weibo showing off her luxurious lifestyle, while claiming to work for Red Cross China, unleashing netizen contempt at the corrupt Chinese elite. On 21 June, Red Cross China declared that Guo Meimei had no connections with them, and Sina apologised for an error in their authentication system that enabled her to claim association on her profile. But netizens continued to attack the Red Cross and started suggesting Guo Meimei was the mistress of the President of Red Cross China, Guo Changjiang 郭长江, who showered her with lavish gifts bought with Red Cross donations. This scandal singlehandedly devastated the reputation of the Red Cross in China and caused charitable giving in China to plummet. The article states that the rumors spread about the Red Cross and Guo Changjiang were false and part of a deliberate campaign run by Erma, backing up uncorroborated claims made in the China Daily in 2011.
Beijing authorities state that Qin and Yang confessed that this was done to demonstrate the capabilities and increase the reputation and profitability of Erma, as well amplify Qin and Yang’s own online profiles.
Now of course, these rumours might not have received the attention they did if China’s Red Cross wasn’t quite so prone to scandal all by itself. Guo Meimei has also shown herself to be more than capable of grabbing headlines unassisted by black PR.
(h/t: Eric Fish)