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Anything online can be deleted for a price in China
Big companies can even pay for yearly internet monitoring and real-time deletion of negative news posts year-round.
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One of the companies responded that they couldn’t do it, as negative stories involving food safety were too difficult to delete. Another company wanted 3000 RMB for a post on one major portal and 1200 RMB for deleting the posts on smaller sites, but also said there was one story it couldn’t delete.

The third deletion company was clearly the most professional, asserting that it could delete all of the posts and also warning the reporter that prices were up and there would be no haggling because of high demand around World Consumer Rights Day.

This company was also clearly quite profitable, as the salesman the reporter talked to didn’t even seem concerned about making a sale: “Whether you want to [delete the posts] or not is fine, these days we’ve got too much work anyway.”

Although the report doesn’t go into too much detail on how, exactly, these posts are deleted, it does quote an insider who suggests it’s mostly based on guanxi — interpersonal relationships — rather than hacking skills.

Through direct connections, PR companies, and sometimes web advertisers, these deletion companies are able to exert some pressure on websites, and the price for deletion can vary depending on the “level” of guanxi needed to pull off the deletion. It’s not specifically mentioned in the article, but I would be shocked if there weren’t also kickbacks to the webmasters who help these companies delete posts for their clients.

In any event, as World Consumer Rights Day approaches, it’s worth keeping in mind that for the right price, a company can get almost any negative report quickly wiped from the internet. As we start hearing about this year’s scandals, it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on the stories out there that we’re probably not hearing about thanks to post deletion companies.

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