Anatomy of a rumor: Did China really ban 10 Apple products?
The lead story on the closely watched Techmeme news aggregator Wednesday was from Bloomberg News: China bans iPads and MacBooks from government use over security fears.
According to unnamed Chinese government officials, Steven Yang and Lulu Yilun Chen reported, China for security reasons had dropped Apple’s iPads and MacBook laptops from the list of products that could be bought with public money.
Such a ban would have impact. China is the world’s biggest market for electronic devices.
And the story seemed to echo China Central Television’s dubious claim last month that the iPhone’s Favorite Locations feature could result in the leak of state secrets — a claim that Apple promptly and respectfully denied.
Some reporters were careful to attribute the story to Bloomberg, or at least to hint that the news was second-hand.
China bans government agencies from purchasing Apple products – report was how AppleInsider’s Sam Oliver handled it.
Others, including Gizmodo’s Jamie Condliffe and Engadget’s Daniel Cooper, posted headlines that treated the ban as fact. China says “No!” to Apple products in government agencies was Peter K.’s snappy headline on iPhoneArena.
Still others added their own spin:
Darrell Etherington / TechCrunch: China Apparently Takes Apple Off Procurement Lists In Bid To Limit Overseas Influence
As you may have guessed by now, serious questions have been raised about almost every aspect of the story. According to a Chinese language report via Caixin, there was no Chinese government ban, there was no security issue, and the procurement list on which Bloomberg hooked its news story was four months old.
MacDailyNews has the scoop:
UPDATE: Reuters reported Friday that China’s chief procurement center has refuted Bloomberg’s claim. Bloomberg is standing by its story, but not quite as firmly as it once did.