Three employees from Chinese Internet giant Baidu have been arrested for being paid by external partners to delete online messages on its online forum, while another employee was fired for apparently only attempting to do so.
A similar case had happened previously but the police are involved this time due to the large amount of money involved, Li Guoxun, a public relations officer at Baidu told Chinese news site Global Times on Sunday. The money offered had run into "tens of thousands of yuan" (10,000 yuan = US$1,570), another source from the Chinese search engine, who declined to be named, told the news site.
"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," Li said in the report.
This comes amid a rise in the number of agencies offering "professional post-deleting" services--which promise to delete online posts on forums, blogs and news portals with negative messages of their clients have surfaced in China, under
Other than these agencies, the Chinese government have also recently made efforts to clamp down on online comments and rumors. Earlier in April, a dozen Web sites were shut down and six people were detained for circulating news of disgraced Communist Party figure, Bo Xilai. The country's popular microblog operators--Tencent and Sina Weibo--subsequently suspended site services for four days to clean up any "illegal and harmful" information.
Google co-founder, Sergey Brin, had also admitted that he was "most concerned" by the Internet censorship efforts of China and it was a threat to online freedom.