The designers of a popular interactive program that lets netizens create pictures of themselves in People"s Liberation Army uniforms have shot down a rumor that the program is an internet fraud.
People"s Daily, which created the program, shared it through WeChat on Sunday to coincide with the parade marking the 90th anniversary of the PLA, which falls on Tuesday.
After scanning a QR code, users need only upload a headshot photo and select the period in which they want to "serve" before receiving a composite that appears to show them in uniform.
The activity quickly became a hit, with countless people sharing the self-portraits with friends on WeChat and other social media.
"I"m now an experienced soldier that was involved in both the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45) and the War of Liberation (1946-49)," Lei Jun, founder of smartphone maker Xiaomi, wrote on Sina Weibo as he posted a set of pictures of himself in PLA uniforms from those periods.
But within hours of the program"s release, a rumor began to circulate online that it was a scam designed to steal personal data connected to servers in Canada.
People"s Daily issued a statement on Monday that said the program "is not internet fraud" and that no private information will be divulged through its use. The newspaper also said it had contacted the police for help in finding the source of the rumor.
Yet many were undeterred.
"I was a soldier when I was young, but I have few military uniform photos left, which is a pity," an 82-year-old Beijinger told Beijing Morning Post. He provided only his surname, Chen.
He said his children made pictures of him in uniform by using the People"s Daily program. "I look so old in the new picture. But I am so happy that our country is growing stronger," he said.
Wang Keju contributed to this story.