Staff of China's Biggest Search Engine Delete User Content For Cash

Illustration for article titled Staff of China's Biggest Search Engine Delete User Content For Cash

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Baidu, China's biggest search company, is sacking staff because they've been deleting users' posts for cash.

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The "professional post-deleting", as it's come to be called, is a way of removing negative press and reviews from websites. The deletion is a major problem in China, but cross referencing a record of original posts with the deletions its employees make has allowed Baidu to identify the culprits. The company told The Global Times:

"Baidu has fired the four. If we discover such cases, we will severely punish staff. Baidu will close the loopholes by strengthening management to maintain order in our communication platform."

The Global Times points out that payments for post deletion can range from around $150 to delete a single forum post, $450 to delete a news story—a news story!—and up to $30,000 a year for what's referred to as a long-term "maintenance service", which sees any negative mentions of a company deleted immediately.

So, next time you rip into the irony of Google "don't be evil" policy, spare a thought for the Chinese. [WSJ and Global Times via Verge]

Image by Getty

DISCUSSION

CaptainHindsight
CaptainHindsight

I'm writing this through a VPN in China.

The internet here is corrupted, blocked and manipulated in a great many ways. Internationally, people suspect the government is exclusively responsible.

Industry is also to blame. Though the line between corporate and government is unclear in China.

What is staggering to me is that the Chinese just dont care. To them this is what the internet is. This is how information and opinions have always been controlled.

What is novel about this story is that Baidu staff are also doing it for private gain.

The Party controls everything. 80-90% of all commerce is conducted through State Owned Enterprises. Anyone in any managerial capacity within these companies is a member of the Party and as such controls information. ALL ISP's are state owned, Party run and comply with most requests.

Private industry and individuals are not afforded this corrupt practice. For that one must pay. This story is about that practice.