China Closes 6600 Websites For Illegal Online PR Deals, Will Not Change Anything

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  • on August 28th, 2011

From China Daily:

China’s telecommunications authorities have shut down 6,600 websites nationwide for illegal public relations (PR) deals in a special campaign launched in April, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

Most of these websites involved illegal groups which claimed to specialize in deleting online news stories and posts with negative influences or hiring other netizens to spread certain kinds of information or opinions on the Internet.

Also during the campaign, industry and commerce departments across the country cracked 150 cases on illegal online PR deals and confiscated more than 1.13 million yuan ($176,500), with focus on online advertisements, forums and BBS.

Official figures show that more than 790,000 online posts and articles, as well as 1.65 million cached pages that contained illegal online PR content, had been deleted during the campaign as of the end of June.

The campaign was jointly launched by the State Internet Information Office, MIIT, the Ministry of Public Security and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC).

According to the SAIC, government departments will explore ways to jointly set up a long-term mechanism to crack down on illegal PR deals.

Online PR in China is a swamp, so any moves to drain it are welcome. But the shuttered websites are not the real problem. The swamp is created by the companies, including many if not all of the publicly traded Chinese Internet behemoths, that sell “news” placements and allow forums and BBSs to be manipulated. Remember, Chinese Internet companies already are required to have systems to filter and remove information that does not “comply with the relevant laws, regulations and policy”, and it is not a stretch to extend that activity into business deals. If those firms decided to forego some profits then perhaps this problem would disappear, at least in the commercial sphere.

Then again, smart people believe very little of what they see in any media in China, rumors abound since no one knows what is credible, and the dishonest PR business makes some people a lot of money. So don’t get your hopes up…

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