Baidu, China's most used search engine, has reportedly sacked four of its employees following an investigation for taking bribes to delete postings.
"Three employees of China's main search engine, Baidu, have been arrested on suspicion of having accepted bribes to delete posts from its forum service," reports BBC. The web giant fired the three, along with a fourth person who was not arrested.
According to the BBC, the bribery ring netted a profit of thousands of pounds. A Baidu's spokeswoman, Betty Tian, confirming said the sums involved amounted to "tens of thousands of yuan" (thousands of pounds).
It is still not known what type of content were deleted. "Baidu has always firmly cracked down on the illegal behaviour of online posts deletion for payment," Tian wrote in an email to the BBC.
"Baidu has also proactively reported actions involving illegal behaviour to the public security organs.
We have established that we will not accept any payment in handling online user complaints."
"Baidu has continuously provided professional ethics education to staff members who are given authority to delete online posts."
Baidu scandal points to the larger concern of online censorship in China. Known as The Great Firewall, the system bans a number of foreign web services in the communist nation and imposes strict censorship and self-censorship rules.
And, Baidu, as well as other Chinese web companies and foreign websites aiming to operate in China, has to comply with the country's strict internet regulations.
There are a number of illegal agencies in China that promise to delete controversial or negative online content on behalf of companies or individuals.
The company was sued for governmental censorship last year. A group of Chinese residents in New York sued the search company for conspiring to censor pro-democratic content.