|Baidu sacks staff for deleting posts, 3 arrested
Baidu confirmed that the Chinese search giant fired four employees, where three of them have been arrested for accepting bribes to delete posts from the company’s TieBa forum service.
The three are suspected of colluding with people outside the company to delete the posts, mainland media reports. A fourth employee was also fired by Baidu but has not been arrested after also attempting to delete posts for cash.
"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," Baidu spokesperson Li Guoxun told reporters.
The company has apparently dealt with similar incidents in the past, although this is the first time that police have been involved.
The post deletions are reportedly a way of getting around negative reviews, with millions of search results on Baidu claiming to offer professional post deleting services.
A member of a company that specialises in such services Beijing Haotian Lianmeng, said that deleting an article from a forum would typically cost 1,000 yuan (HK$1,217). Removing one from a blog meanwhile, would cost 2,000 yuan while 3,000 yuan would buy you a deletion from a new portal like Sina.
"We can offer a professional long-term maintenance service for a company, 150,000 yuan to 200,000 yuan a year. If you choose this service, we will keep an eye on your company around the clock and delete any negative messages," the staff member said.
Baidu, which owns around 78% of search revenue in China says it is stepping up its efforts to crackdown on post deletions.