Baidu Employees Arrested for Paid Deletions
Four Baidu employees were fired last month for taking bribes to delete postings from the company’s Tieba BBS service. Three of them have also been arrested, while the fourth was lucky enough to be caught before going through with any illegal activity. From Paul Mozur at The Wall Street Journal:
Although she declined to comment on the nature of the content being deleted, [Baidu spokeswoman Betty] Tian said the practice had been limited to Baidu’s Tieba service, which functions like a collection of message boards and blogs that allow users to comment on different topics or people.
In China, individuals or companies often pay money to have controversial or negative posts deleted from websites and blogs, according to analysts. The practice is generally illegal in China.
“There’s no major Chinese Internet company that has been able to completely avoid this sort of thing,” said Mark Natkin, managing director of Marbridge Consulting. “It’s just very difficult to police everybody all the time.”
[…] One service, geared toward removing negative reviews of products, promises users they can pay after the targeted post is deleted. Another site charges 35 yuan to 45 yuan, or roughly US$5.50 to US$7, per modified or deleted post.