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China Shuts Down 165 Online Accounts Over False Rumors

FROM AUGUST 13: Incredible Footage Shows Dramatic Reactions to China Blasts 1:14

BEIJING — Nearly 200 people have been “punished” for spreading rumors about the Chinese stock market and the Tianjin blasts, authorities said.

The Ministry of Public Security published a statement on its website on Sunday saying that 197 people were accused of “violations” that “caused panic, misled the public and resulted in disorders in stock market or society.”

According to the statement, the false rumors included a report about a man who jumped to his death after the stock market slump. Another was that the death toll in the port city of Tianjin had exceeded 1,300 people. The official death toll is 150.

The government's campaign resulted in 165 online accounts being shut down. Quoting a spokesperson from the Ministry of Public Security, the statement said that “rumors on [the] stock market would cause panic and hurt market confidence.”

China’s government has been left reeling after last week’s massive falls in Shanghai’s Composite Index. Shares fell as much as 8 percent last week, causing a ripple effect in markets around the world. Stocks have since recovered somewhat.

Meanwhile, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency reported that several people have been detained for “stock market violations” following last week’s massive drops.

One of those held was named as Wang Xiaolu, a journalist from Caijing Magazine, a financial bi-weekly. He is accused of fabricating and spreading false information on China’s securities and futures market, as well as colluding with others.

Also held under “criminal compulsory measures”, according to Xinhua, was Liu Shufan, an official who worked for the China Securities Regulatory Commission. He is accused of insider trading, accepting bribes, and forging official seals.

Others named in the Xinhua report include four senior executives from CITIC Securities, one of the leading investment banks in China. They are said to have admitted to insider trading.

China’s Ministry of Public Security did not respond to a request by NBC News for comment.