The People's Daily Dose of Porn
An email with the subject title of 'Look at what I found off the People's Daily website!' directed me to http://english.people.com.cn/topic/home.html. I took the screen capture below.
What happens if you click through to the 'pregnant pussy' link, for example? Will you see an obese feline creature? Or what? It turns out that it leads to a 'Working' in China page inside People's Daily Online, and the comments contain a great deal of practical advice.
(Interfax) Pornographic links found on government sponsored online newspaper. August 10, 2006.
Shanghai. August 9. INTERFAX-CHINA - Readers interested in the Online Community section of the English version of the People's Daily Online ( http://english.people.com.cn) were in for an unexpected surprise Wednesday morning.
The website, under Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily, contained over a dozen links promoting pornographic and explicit content under its 'Recent Posts' section.
However, upon clicking one of the questionable links, the topic reverts back to something more suitable for a government regulated media outlet, leading to the possibility that a hacking attack may be involved.
"Obviously this was not something done by our department," an official surnamed Wang in the website's chief editing office for the English edition told Interfax. "It's possible we could be the victim of a hacker. We will look into this further and have more information later."
The incident was initially posted on popular China-related blog site at http://www.zonaeuropa.com, which is complete with a screenshot of the bizarre situation.
As of press time, the offending links had been taken down by the website.
((In translation) The Chinese Communist mouthpiece People's Daily English-language website was likely attacked by hackers yesterday. According to an Interfax report, a reader found out that a section of the website contained more than a dozen links to pornographic photographs and related contents. If you do not follow the links, the topic goes back to the normal content. An editor named Wang at People's Daily Online said: "The website may have been attacked by hackers. We will publish the relevant information later." Later, those links were removed from the website.)
(CNET Asia) Did the People's Daily get hacked? Will Moss. August 10, 2006.
The People's Daily, the official mouthpiece of China's Communist Party, has been called many things: Staid, dull, propagandistic, impenetrable, bizarre. One thing it has rarely been called is racy. But it looks like a bold new page for the online English language version of the venerable and dusty rag. Of course, it may not have been something they were planning.
Indispensable Hong Kong blogger Roland Soong, of EastSouthWestNorth, broke the story in a post yesterday after a reader tipped him off that the homepage of the Daily's English language "community" site (read: Forum) had some pretty odd-looking links. Among these were such gems as "teen lesbians," "drunk college girls" and "sex toys". Dangerous topics for a publication that already has to carry the suggestive label "party mouthpiece".
Needless to say, this is a bit of a stretch from the kind of thing one sees on the Daily's homepage, which includes such titillating topics as "China in brief 2004" (yes, 2004), "Full text of the premier's report on the work of the Government" and "Military transparency is Japan's excuse". In fairness, the homepage also includes a link to "[Communist Party] and state organs", but I don't think it's as exciting as it sounds.
Shortly after Soong posted on this, the homepage of the community mysteriously vanished. It's back up today, but the topics look a little more prosaic at first glance.
As Soong noted, Hong Kong's Sun newspaper speculated that the People's Daily had been hacked.
But perhaps it's not quite that sinister. What the People's Daily seems to be suffering from is a serious case of poor forum moderation and spam filtering. Yes, China has a reputation--largely overblown--for it's zillions of cybercops. But there don't seem to be enough to keep the Daily's forum from being overrun with spam, in this case, pr0n spam. Even today, clicking into many of the links in the forum reveals a range of garbage content, including the usual flotsam of pharmaceutical pitches that seem to be the current bane of the entire Internet.
How could this happen to the Web site of the starchy People's Daily? Well, the reality is that China's English language news Web sites are somewhat orphaned. Neither the English People's Daily Web site nor the English Xinhua Web site carries the weight, authority or manpower that its Chinese language parent does. And as for the China Daily, well, don't get me started. (Although, it must be conceded that the China Daily's forums, while still a bit swampy, look somewhat better managed than the People's Daily's.) Despite this, and the tendency of all English language news Web sites to play fast and loose with the girly pictures (NSFW) at the best of times, they are still often the starting point for foreign news reports, sometimes to embarrassing results.
In this case, however, it is Soong himself who is generating the news, as Russian news agency Interfax picked up on his post and ran a story on the People's Daily's forum troubles.
Another banner moment for China's state-run English language media.