Chinese search giant Baidu is joining Alibaba and Tencent in a move aimed to distance itself from cryptocurrency-related activities.
China Times, a Beijing-based business media, reported on Sunday that Baidu is seeking to censor and ban forum topics that discuss crypto-related activities on Baidu Tieba, the firm’s Reddit-alike online community business.
“Currently, the company has toughened its scrutiny over digital currency and will not allow sub-forums under such theme, based on relevant rules and regulations,” the report said, citing an anonymous source close to the firm.
A representative for Baidu Tieba told CoinDesk that “the company will operate and manage its forum business based on existing Chinese laws and regulations” but did not give specific comment on crypto-related discussions.
At the moment, at least the “digital currency” and “virtual currency” sub-forums appear to be unavailable as searching for these keywords lead to a statement saying “This forum is temporarily closed due to relevant laws, regulations, and policies.”
Commenting on such closure, the Baidu Tieba representative hinted it was because these sub-forums were suspected of distributing information about initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrency speculation.
“The same with why WeChat did it,” the representative added, referring to the report last week that Tencent shut down the presence of several crypto media on its WeChat messaging platform due to suspected ICOs and crypto trading information.
Launched in 2003, Baidu Tieba is the largest online forum community for Chinese internet users. The company claimed its forum business now has around 300 million monthly active users.
That said, other sub-forums with relevant themes still exist and remain active on Baidu Tieba as of press time, such as “bitcoin,” “ethereum,” and “bitcoin mining,” etc.
Baidu’s move came just after Friday’s report that Alibaba and Tencent both said they will continue monitoring and suspending accounts who use mobile payments applications to conduct over-the-counter crypto trading.
On Friday, five high-level regulatory agencies in China jointly issued a warning against overseas cryptocurrency projects that use online communication channels to solicit investment from Chinese investors.