Altered Images: New twist in scandal that rocked charity

They were scandalous photos that almost brought down China's biggest charity - and this week the "Guo Meimei" affair took a new twist.

Image caption How Time magazine covered the scandal

When the glamorous young woman, whose microblog profile said she worked for a company linked to the country's Red Cross Society, posted photos of herself posing on the bonnet of luxury cars and carrying designer handbags, the public was outraged. They wanted to know how she was funding such a lavish lifestyle. And despite the Red Cross pointing out that she was not employed by the charity, claims of a lack of transparency at the organisation - coupled with the fact that Weibo - China's Twitter equivalent - had incorrectly verified her profile - meant questions persisted. The charity is still rebuilding its reputation today.

It turned out Guo had exaggerated her role and her possessions were said to have been gifts. But as Time magazine reported in 2011: "Guo became an unwitting poster girl for the murky world of Chinese philanthropy, in which donations have long been suspected of funding more than just charitable causes." She even earned herself a spot on the front of Time - except the cover doing the rounds turned out to be faked.

This week, amid a Chinese government crackdown on "rumour-mongers", Beijing police arrested two men from a PR company they allege exploited the scandal - along with a host of other examples of spreading false information, reports news agency Xinhua. They're alleged to have made up information to influence opinion online, including false rumours that civil servants were obliged to donate to the Red Cross, reports Xinhua.

Commenting after the arrests, the Beijing Times said: "The fabrication and spread of rumours and other criminal activities are currently running amok on the internet," However, the government action has also provoked concerns over free speech. Hong Kong's South China Morning Post noted the unusual publicity surrounding the arrest and argued the arrests might "coincide with a concerted government campaign to discredit outspoken liberals and crack down on dissent".