The Shanghai Internet Information Office has warned that it will crackdown on online “rumors” about the city’s efforts to control COVID-19, telling citizens to “distinguish rumors from facts.”

According to an announcement released on Friday, April 8, officials said people could be charged for ‘picking quarrels and provoking trouble’ if found guilty of spreading or fabricating false information.

The internet watchdog declared it would work with public security and other departments to trace down rumor makers and disseminators of such content and penalize them accordingly.

South China Morning Post reported that the crime, which is commonly used against dissidents, could result in facing up to 5 years behind bars in terms of minor breaches.

The warning came after China’s largest city extended the partial lockdown into a citywide order, amid growing public frustrations vented on social media. Most common are outcries against food shortages, medical supplies, and the conditions of several quarantine sites.

According to Reuters, on Friday afternoon, results for the hashtag “Shanghai purchase food” were restricted on Weibo, Chinese version of Twitter.

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