Twitter may serve many valid purposes, but also means that unsubstantiated rumors can get thrown around with the greatest of ease. For example, Chinese bloggers are Twittering that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was assassinated in Beijing today.
They’re claiming that this was part of a coup or assassination by outside forces - nothing is quite clear and nothing is substantiated by anything more than unnamed individuals.
Official Internet Rule: Any (Chinese) Twitter post that begins with “according to reliable source” is almost certainly fake. But this hasn’t stopped Chinese netizens from speculating that the killing was a military coup, and posting blurry pictures purporting to show an unusual number of vehicles parked at the North Korean embassy. ChinaSMACK staff writer Joe Xu suggests reports of large number of cars at the embassy may have sparked the rumor. “Rumors like this pop up every other week,” he writes on Twitter.
With the way that North Korea and China both operate, these rumors get a life of their own because the regimes are quite insular and don’t let on who controls what and want to control the flow of information. The lack of information means that rumors can blossom on the drop of a hat and can gain credence by speculation.
No evidence. No facts. Just twitterings.
Heck, does anyone even know if Jong-un was supposed to be in China when this allegedly occurred? It seems that facts get thrown out the window and speculation and the North Korean version of Kremlinology takes over (making policy decisions on the basis of photos and what they do and don’t show - such as figuring out who is or isn’t in favor by leaders by where they stand/sit in photos).
What this does show is that there are a whole lot of people who wouldn’t mind seeing the North Korean regime fail, and an assassination (or attempted assassination) in North Korea’s benefactor’s capital would be a huge blow to China as well.