Deleting Internet Postings a Growing Business in China

November 27, 2009 Updated: November 29, 2009

A new type of business in the field of information technology is emerging in China: one that enables clients to remove unflattering or detrimental material about them on the Internet.

The cost is not cheap—the price ranges anywhere from 4000 to 15,000 yuan for each item removed.

“The services provided to our customers include: fast removal of negative, online information and news; fast removal from Baidu (the most popular Chinese search engine) caches; fast removal of negative posts on major forums,” reads one Internet advertisement posted by Nanjing Jiulan Technology Co., Ltd, according to a report by “Modern Express.”

One of Nanjing Jiulan’s Web pages, which has since been removed but is still viewable through Google’s cache function, says that its Internet crisis PR service can “do its best to avoid negative information appearing online when searching the related product, service or person requested by the prospective client.”

Nanjing Jiulan says it is an IT company with operations ranging from Web site design, development, administration, and database development.

Jiulan is not the only company in this line of work in Nanjing City. Entering “Internet posting deletions in Nanjing City” as keywords into a search in Chinese reveals numerous companies offering similar services.

They each make a similar claim: “We can delete any postings from the Internet, as long as you pay the service fee.”

Three Methods Used

Generally, three methods are claimed to be used to delete postings.

First, positive messages about clients are sent over the Internet to cover the first few pages of search engine results. Most clients prefer this method, as it not only removes the visibility of negative news, but also sends out positive messages to potential customers.

Second is the use of public relations to get connections with Web site masters to directly delete the offending posts from Web sites or forums.

Third, hacking techniques are used to directly remove unwanted content from Web sites.

However, insiders of the trade disclosed to the Southern Metropolis Daily that the methods are mostly used to drum up business and in reality, especially with the claimed use of hacking techniques, are almost impossible to actually execute.

Baidu and Google both deny any instances of Web caches being deleted by hackers, claiming that it would be very difficult to access the backend and delete its contents.

Mr. Hu of Beijing Liyou PR Company, who has been working in the field for two years, told the Southern Metropolis Daily that the only method that works for him is to directly ask the Web site to remove the offending news.

Hu explained that most of the information on the Internet is copied. To remove the negative news, one must first find the original reporting media and ask the media to delete the news. According to him, it is, in fact, a type of public relations work directly involving media.

In general, the PR companies work with the media in two ways: one is to convince the clients to establish relationships with media by placing advertisements. The second is to present the evidence to the media that the report was inaccurate, requesting that they remove it, and after that, the PR company will contact other websites, asking them to remove the negative news immediately.

The Modern Express report said that business enterprises are the main customers for such internet crisis PR business: for instance, some companies' product defects are exposed by media by quality control entities. This type of information usually spreads quickly over the Internet.

Some companies post attacks on the Internet to damage their competitors’ reputation. All these have become the justification for companies to get help from Internet crisis public relations firms.

Read the original Chinese article.