Chinese search giant Baidu has become embroiled in a bribing scandal, with four of its employees suspected of accepting payments to delete posts on the company’s forum.
Baidu, which became the first Chinese company to join the Nasdaq 100 index in 2007, has already fired the four staff members involved - of which three have now been arrested. It has not been confirmed why the fourth member has avoided further action, nor what posts were deleted.
A spokeswoman for the firm, Betty Tian, told the BBC the bribes amounted to “tens of thousands of yuan”, which equates to thousands of pounds. There are thought to be a number of underground agencies in China offering to delete online content, receiving payment from organisations keen to stamp out negative press.
In a statement published on The Next Web, Baidu said it has “discovered the suspicious behaviour of several employees in its recent crackdown on illegal online post deletion. Baidu does not tolerate such behavior, and has disciplined the non-compliance staff based on relevant disciplinary guidelines...Baidu has also proactively reported actions involving illegal behaviour to the public security organs.”
Recognising its role in dealing with the wider problems facing the country’s online world, the statement continued, “Illegal post deletion is a major problem for the Chinese Internet; Baidu will employ more rigorous administration and procedures in managing illegal post deletion to set an example for Chinese Internet companies.”
Baidu gained greater notoriety in the West in June when Apple announced a partnership with the search engine to bring its service onto iOS. It is hoped the link-up will boost sales and revenue in China for the Cupertino firm.