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Google China and Baidu apologize for porn links

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Three of China's most popular search engines have apologized for being slow to remove links to pornographic material, following the government's pledge on Monday to crack down on "vulgar" content on the web.

The Chinese Ministry of Public Security is heading a nationwide campaign to purge the internet of websites accused of "violating public morality and harming the physical and mental health of youth and young people," according to state television.

Officials publicly criticized 19 internet websites and operators, including Google, Baidu, and SINA Corp. for disregarding warnings about carrying the offending content.

"The government will continue to expose, punish or even shut down those infamous websites that refuse to correct their wrongdoing," Cai Mingzhao, deputy director of the State Council Information Office, said in a teleconference Monday. "Immediate action is needed to purify the internet environment."

"We feel deeply guilty," Baidu wrote in a statement on its website today as translated by Reuters. "We apologize to Internet users for any negative effects given to society."

Online media company and web portal SINA Corp. also issued a public apology.

"As to our problems and any harm they could possibly have caused Internet users, SINA feels deeply sad and concerned," it said.

(Nobody better tell China about teledildonics or somebody is going to blow a fuse).

Google China seemed to express significantly less shame about the whole affair, but promised on its blog to "work hard" to build a healthier internet culture.

China claims to have the world's largest population of internet users with an estimate of more than 253 million at the end of June last year. ®

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