Govt cracks down on editors accepting bribes to delete negative online reports

By Li Ruohan Source:Global Times Published: 2015-9-10 20:28:01

Photo: Li Hao/GT

 Staff members at prominent news portals have faced imprisonment in a special campaign to crack down on those deleting negative posts for profit and online blackmail that has been ongoing since January.

The campaign was launched on January 21, jointly chaired by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television.

The authorities discovered that an editor surnamed Qiu had accepted 118,000 yuan ($18,000) to delete posts on the portal's website, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Monday.

Qiu charged 800 yuan for each article he deleted and Beijing's Chaoyang District Court handed Qiu a  five-year prison sentence for taking bribes in June.

The Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate issued a judicial interpretation in September 2013, saying the deleting of information for profits was illegal and should be punished.

Paid post-deleting refers to the practice of removing information (mostly negative reports) from websites, which is mostly carried out by PR companies who bribe editors to do their dirty work. Some Web editors use negative reports to coax companies and individuals into paying money to have them taken down.

A total of 136 websites that were judged to have serious problems were investigated by local cyberspace offices, including, a business news portal sponsored by the Beijing-based Economic Daily, and, a news portal under the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China.

Since January, over 9 million pieces of information were deleted for profit on the Chinese Internet. In response, the authorities removed or filtered over 9,000 keywords related to post-deletion search engines.

Profitable practice

One Web editor, who allegedly made 7.8 million yuan by deleting posts in four years, said that the business of paid post-deleting could generate over 100 million yuan per year and provide thousands of PR jobs, according to the Xinhua report.

The industry dedicated to removing negative information online on the behalf of businesses and individuals has existed for a long time, Zhu Wei, deputy director with the Research Center of Law of Communication, China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times.

The industry is especially busy during government crackdowns, such as campaigns to safeguard food safety or eliminate corruption, said Zhu, adding that negative reports can be especially damaging at these times.

Police in Qichun, Central China's Hubei Province busted a paid post-deleting case, in which over 2,000 clients were involved, including government officials and celebrities, said Xinhua.

An Internet police officer in South China's Hainan Province was sentenced to 10 years behind bars for deleting online posts in exchange for 700,000 yuan, the Hainan Special Zone News reported.

A total of 13,883 accounts on five of China's major websites (,,, and have been shut down or blocked for illegal practices, according to a CAC statement in April.

Long-term plans

China will set a long-term mechanism to clean up online blackmail and for-profit post deletion, including a tip-off system, said the CAC on August 27. The CAC has long been encouraging the public to report online violations. It has promised prompt responses, personal privacy protection as well as financial rewards.

Those who are found to have deleted posts online for profit or to have blackmailed others will be placed onto a blacklist. The blacklist will affect the annual CAC review of the website who employed the violator, and affect the official qualifications of the guilty editor, according to a report on CAC website in February 2015.

Despite the Supreme People's Court's interpretation, post-deleting was not regarded as being illegal or against the law by those who provided the service until this campaign was launched, said a former manager of a post-deleting company surnamed Liu.

He added that the post-deleting industry has shrunk since January and that "now we know it's illegal and obviously nobody will take the risk."

Newspaper headline: Cyber corruption

Posted in: Society

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