Baidu Apologizes for Posting on Behalf of Grieving Father

Baidu headquarters image via Shutterstock

Recently a murder case under suspicious circumstances broke out on Chinese social media. A nine-year old little girl named Zhang Zixin was killed after being abducted by the two tenants of her family’s residence. The two tenants committed suicide after allegedly drowning the little girl. The motive and details of the case remain under investigation.

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Before the rescue team found the remains of the girl and the police had conducted DNA identification, the Baidu account certified as “Zhang Zixin’s father” sent a Weibo post immediately, saying that “I just learned that my little Zixin has left this world and has gone to heaven. We can’t be father and daughter in this life. I hope she will still be my daughter in the next life, so that I can still take care of her…”

the Baidu account certified as “Zhang Zixin’s father” sent a Weibo post (Source: Baidu)

Someone commented under the post “Why would a father feel like posting on Weibo when his young daughter was just murdered?”. It was later confirmed that the father didn’t post this after all. It was the duty editor of Baidu News that sent this post without the father’s consent.

Flooded with negative online comments, Baidu immediately took emergency measures, dismissing the duty editor and proceeding with review of its news management system.

The official account of Baidu News later issued an apology on July 13.

We are extremely saddened by the unfortunate news of Zhang Zixin. May the deceased rest in peace. In terms of the incident of “Baidu’s account posting a fake post from Zhang Zixin’s father”, Baidu News immediately launched the internal investigation process. The results of the investigation are as follows:

1. Zhang Zixin’s father gave Baidu authorization to have his account opened to Baidu. The original intention was to gather the public and help the family to find Zixin as soon as possible.

2. With the exception of the last one, the posts on the account were all released with the consent of the father.

3. After Zixin’s death, the duty editor of Baidu News contacted Zixin’s father, and released the latest news after he contacted the father but failed to receive confirmation.

4. The editor seriously violated the management regulations of Baidu News, which hurt the feelings of Zixin’s family and the general public. We feel deeply sorry and ashamed. We have deleted this post, immediately dismissed the editor in charge, and will fully review the Baidu news management system. At this time, our embarrassment and shame is beyond words. Once again, we apologize to the relatives of Zixin and the public!

With the details of the case still unsolved, Baidu’s inappropriate behavior this time will continue to incur strong criticism online.