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“The result of banning comments was a surge in reposting. It did nothing to stop rumors from spreading,” Han Han, a popular online commentator, wrote on his own microblog. “This has nothing to do with regulating but power-flaunting and warning. What it says is if I can take away commenting from you for three days, I can make you lose microblogging forever.”

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Associated Press researcher Yu Bing contributed to this report.