Baidu Apologizes for Links to Adult Websites

Nikki Tang
BEIJING — Baidu, China’s most popular search engine, issued an apology today for hosting links to pornography after the Chinese government accused it and other websites of having “negative effects” on Internet users.

The apology was issued in response to the government’s announcement on Monday that Baidu, as well as Google and 17 other websites, had failed to “efficiently” respond to warnings and remove links to content deemed vulgar or obscene.

Baidu officials said they felt “deeply guilty” for spreading such content, and that “besides deleting the obscene content and links concerned, we have improved our regulatory system. We apologize to the Netizens at large for the negative impacts we brought upon the society.”

The distribution of pornographic content is illegal in China, but the applicable laws and the definition of what makes content vulgar or pornographic are vague, according to Wang Qiang of the Beijing Internet Management Office, which is responsible for punishing Internet law violators. Cui Jin, a spokesperson for Google in Beijing, said the vague definitions of pornography and vulgarity make it difficult to regulate content and allow or disallow it accordingly.

Authorities are currently working on punishment schemes for the vague charge of spreading vulgarity, according to Qiang.

Several other blacklisted websites, including Internet service portals Sohu and Tencent, have also issued apologies. Google included a note in its Google China blog about fixing links to “vulgar content,” but had not issued an apology or public statement at time of post.