Thursday, April 10, 2014

State Media: Baidu Staff and Internet Police Profited by Deleting Negative Information

Previous Posts on This Topic:
On March 26, 2014, the state sponsored Beijing News published an English language article on its web site entitled “Baidu Staff, Web Censor Profited by Deleting Unfavorable Posts.” Some excerpts:
Screenshot taken on March 2, 2014, showing
Baidu censoring search results for
"Delete Negative Information." Credit: Feichangdao
Beijing police have detained at least 10 people, including employees at Baidu, the leading Chinese-language Internet search provider, over allegations of abusing their positions to delete online posts in return for money, the Beijing News reports.

Xu Ning, an administrator at Baidu Tieba, an online community bound tightly to Baidu's Internet search services, was found to have taken 67,400 yuan ($10,856) for deleting more than 300 posts in collaboration with Lv Longwei, who once worked at Baidu.
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A PR company has also profited from deleted posts. It was launched in 2010 by a former Baidu employee surnamed Gu.
The Beijing News published a Chinese language version of the article entitled “A Policeman Took Money to Help People Delete Online Posts” (一警察收钱帮人删网帖). Some excerpts:
Today this reporter learned that, since 2012, at least ten personnel had been placed under control in the above-captioned case.
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Baidu reported the case to authorities and exposed the scandalous story of paid post deletion, leading to the detention of many website administrators, PR company managers, and police officers.
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One those arrested was Xu Ning, a former senior product operations manager in Baidu's social search department, where he was responsible for PostBar moderator complaints and moderator examination and verification.
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A court subsequently found that, from May 29 through June 8, 2012, Xu Ning and Lv Weilong cooperated to illegally delete posts nine times, deleting over 300 posts, and accepted fees totaling 67,400 yuan. In June 2013, a Haidian court sentenced Xu Ning and Lv Weilong to 14 and 18 months imprisonment, respectively for the crime of accepting bribes as non-government employees.
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Three days after Baidu reported Xu Ning to the police, another former Baidu employee was detained: Mr. Gu, who was deputy general manager of a PR firm. It is understood that this company was established by Gu's older brother, and that his sister-in-law Mrs. Ai was responsible for its financial affairs.
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According to the arrest warrant submitted by the police, Gu's company is suspected of "searching online for negative news and posts about government agencies and enterprises, and directing company employees to contact those government agencies and enterprises, and compelling those government agencies and enterprises with negative information online to spend money to hire his company to help get the negative online information deleted, suppressed, or blocked, and obtaining advantage thereby." In addition, they are also suspected of bribing many web site managers to delete negative information.
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Gu's company has also stated that a Mr. Liu, who was an officer with the Internet Security Office of the Beijing Public Security Bureau, had also had inappropriate economic contacts with them. Liu was subsequently subjected to compulsory measures.
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The posts at issue have already been deleted, and it has not been possible for this reporter to trace links to their original text. However, one of the suspects has stated that the deleted content was primarily the rapid promotions of second generation bureaucrats, deaths arising from forced demolitions, government building construction going over-budget, as well as some negative news about some publicly listed state owned enterprises, such as environmental pollution, increases in reserves, and product quality. Gu also said that his clients included a famous air conditioner company and a famous property developer.
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According to Gu's statement, after these governments and enterprises signed contracts with the company, they would typically use three means to remove negative influences. The first was directly deleting posts, with enterprises directly pleading with the portal web sites and the government going through Officer Liu to send a notice to various web sites.

The second means was Internet optimization, known in the profession as "astroturfing," pushing negative information lower in search engine result rankings. To achieve this they had specialized software, and it was not necessary to spend any additional money on any specific case.

The third means was to go through Baidu to block key words, and for this they had to obtain help from Mr. Lu, who worked in Baidu's public relations department.

记者近日获悉,至2012年,上述涉案人员至少十余人被控制.
. . . .
百度报案揭开有偿删帖黑幕;多位网站管理人员、传媒公司负责人、公安民警先后落网。
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被批捕的是百度公司原社区搜索部高级产品运营管理专员许宁,负责百度贴吧内吧主投诉和吧主审核工作。
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后法院审理查明,2012年5月29日至6月8日,许宁、吕伟隆二人共进行违规删帖操作9次、删帖300余条,并收受好处费共计人民币67400元。去年6月,海淀法院一审以非国家工作人员受贿罪分别判处许宁有期徒刑一年二个月、吕伟隆有期徒刑一年六个月。
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就在百度向警方举报许宁三天后,同样曾在百度任职,后为一家传媒公司的副总经理的顾某被海淀公安分局刑事拘留。据了解,该公司由顾某的哥哥创立,顾某嫂子艾某主管财务。
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根据警方提请批准逮捕书显示,顾某的公司被怀疑“在网上搜寻政府、企业类负面新闻、帖子等信息,之后指使公司员工联系相关的政府、企业单位,迫使有负面信息的政府、企业单位同意花钱找上述公司帮助在网上删除、压制或屏蔽负面信息,从中牟利”。此外,他们还被警方怀疑曾向多名网站管理人员行贿,以删除负面信息。
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顾某公司还显示,与他们有不正当经济往来的,还有北京市公安局原网安总队民警刘某,刘某后被采取强制措施。
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目前,涉案的帖子均已删除,记者无从根据链接查到帖子原文。不过,一位嫌疑人举例称,诸如官二代火箭提升、强拆出人命、政府办公楼超标等,以及一些国有上市公司的负面新闻,比如环境污染、库存增加、产品质量问题等,都是删帖的主要内容。顾某也曾透露,某知名空调品牌、知名地产商都是其客户。
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等这些政府、企业与公司签订协议后,据顾某供述,他们通常会使用三种方式消除负面影响。第一种就是直接删帖,企业的就直接拜托门户网站,政府就通过警察刘某给各家网站下通知;第二种是网络优化,行话叫“下沉”,即让负面信息在搜索引擎中较靠后的页数出现,为此他们还专门有一套软件完成,不需要针对个案再另外花钱;第三种就是通过百度屏蔽关键词,而这个只能找百度公关部门负责人卢某帮忙。

Translation: Huang Xuqin and Wang Jianbing Inciting Subversion Indictment

On June 14, 2024, the Twitter account "Free Huang Xueqin & Wang Jianbing 释放雪饼" (@FreeXueBing)  posted a copy of the last two p...