The Claim and Our Verdict
The claim: An image circulating online claims to show that a Chinese state-run media website Huanqiu.com releases an article that China has not leaked data containing personal details of one billion Chinese citizens, but 970 million.
- A keyword search was conducted, but no relevant content was found on the website of Huanqiu.com. The media website responded to an email enquiry: “The relevant content has never been published by Huanqiu.com.” Huanqiu.com added that the image circulating online has been manipulated, and the font styles are different from those appearing on its website.
- A font comparison shows that the fonts in the image and those appearing on Huanqiu.com are different.
- In addition, the information shown in the image is inconsistent. The article begins by stating that the source is Ta Kung Pao, while, at the end of the article, it is mentioned that the source is Internet Information Office of Liaoning Province. However, no relevant information can be found on both of their websites.
Our verdict: The image has been fabricated. The Chinese state-run media website does not publish an article to clarify rumors about the alleged leak of Chinese citizens’ personal data.
An image was shared July 12, 2022, on Facebook. It appears to show an article published July 8, 2022 by the Chinese state-run media website Huanqiu.com. The article was titled “This rumor smears China—even foreign media can’t stand it…” The Facebook post, written in traditional Chinese, translates as: “The Shanghai police database was hacked. Data containing personal details of one billion Chinese citizens was leaked. Huanqiu.com quoted the source from the Wall Street Journal to clarify the rumor. The correct figure should be 970 million, not a billion.”
As of the publication of this report, the Facebook post had been shared 16 times, and had received 25 comments and 301 likes or reactions. Similar posts have been circulating on Twitter here, and on Facebook here, here, here, and here.
Huanqiu.com is a Chinese media website jointly operated by People’s Daily and the Global Times.
The image appears to show that the article was published July 8, 2022. A keyword search of Huanqiu.com was conducted, however, no relevant content about the article titled “This rumor smears China—even foreign media can’t stand it…” can be found. HKBU Fact Check has also emailed the website to inquire about the authenticity of the image. The chief editor’s office replied, “The relevant content has never been published by Huanqiu.com. It is believed that the image circulating online has been manipulated, and the font styles are different from those used on our website.
A font comparison between the image and Huanqiu.com articles was conducted. The HTML source code of the website shows that the default font for article headings is set to the simplified Chinese-language font PingFang SC, while Helvetica, Microsoft YaHei and Arial are used in sequence as alternative fonts, among which Helvetica and Arial are English-language fonts.
However, the font style of article headings in the image is neither “PingFang SC” nor Microsoft Yahei.” The shape and position of the punctuation marks in the image are also obviously different from those on Huanqiu.com.
In addition, the information provided in the forged article is inconsistent. For example, at the beginning of the article, it is stated that the source is Ta Kung Pao. However, it is mentioned at the end that the source is Internet Information Office of Liaoning Province. No relevant information can be found on both of the websites of Ta Kung Pao and Internet Information Office of Liaoning Province.
The image has been fabricated. The Chinese state-run media website does not publish an article to clarify rumors about the alleged leak of Chinese citizens’ personal data.