Chinese Government Tightens Restrictions on Search Engine Content After Catching Users Storing Porn

chinaGoogle may have been able to dominate the world of search engines in the U.S., but the search engine Baidu has found immense success in the Chinese market — unfortunately for Baidu, this success doesn’t come without a price. There’s a long history of conflict between Western-based Google and the Chinese government which centers around the issue of censorship, and it seems that Baidu had been able to take advantage of Google’s aversion to censorship (which is mandated by the Chinese government) and was able to succeed because of Google’s refusal to play along with the rules. The Beijing based search engine easily became the number one platform for Chinese-language searches, and its Nasdaq shares reached record highs at $226.50 last month.

But it appears that Baidu’s success is precisely why the company is in trouble now. Although the company manages to censor out the majority of prohibited websites, news just came out that pornographic pictures managed to squeeze through the cracks when Baidu employees weren’t looking. And not surprisingly, the government was quick to find out about the infraction and severely chastise Baidu for not deleting the inappropriate photos from the accounts of certain users’ cloud storage. Baidu was ordered to immediately delete the content, shut down the accounts of the users who possessed the photos, and provide a report about the clean-up process.

Considering that China’s restrictions on internet content are strict enough to chase away a search engine giant like Google, it’s impressive that Baidu got off with a warning to improve the “supervision of its service.” This incident is also indicative of a larger problem that the Chinese government is currently facing. With nearly 83% of all internet users regularly using search engineswhile online, monitoring content is becoming more difficult than ever. Although it appears that the government has every intention of cracking down on illegal content, only time will tell if blocking so much content is feasible in the modern digital world.

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