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Beijing Electronic Sunset False Report: CBS, DailyMail Incorrectly Attribute Ad to Government Manipulation

First Posted: Jan 20, 2014 02:19 PM EST
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A domestic tourism advertisement placed in Tiananmen has led to a storm of controversy on the internet after several sources reported it was a stand-in for the actual sunset.

In actuality, the electronic billboard pictured played a video featuring a sunset in one scene, which was then snapped by a photographer and used to inspire the story about state-simulated sunsets in China.

China's foreign tourism lags behind international averages, although it is still the third most visited country after France and the United States. The Chinese domestic tourism industry, on the other hand, is quite strong, driven by the country's large population. The majority of Chinese people prefer to vacation domestically rather than abroad due primarily to cost limitations but also because of national pride. Shandong province, whose advertisement was being featured in Tiananmen Square, is a booming tourism industry leader within the country, renowned for its World Heritage sites as well as the former German port city of Qingdao, the namesake for the beer and one of the country's most well-known products.

After the erroneous story of a simulated electronic sunset was run by some news sites, other major outlets such as Time, the Huffington Post, even CBS ran their own versions of the story. 

Today, there is a thread on Reddit about the subject of the news controversy, with top rated comments calling the original news sites that started the story "garbage" and a "textbook formation of fake news," with some going so far as to say they will "never trust" news about China from Western media sources.

Now that the fallout is over with, the record is being set straight.

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