August 30, 2018 / 8:14 AM / 22 days ago

Baidu sues Chinese blogger over online joke about CEO Robin Li

SHANGHAI, Aug 30 (Reuters) - Baidu Inc on Thursday said it has sued an anonymous Chinese blogger for an online post that jokes about the search engine giant’s chief executive officer and co-founder, Robin Li.

The joke was posted by the blogger on his Twitter-like Weibo account in May and was related to rumours that had been circling on Chinese social media about Li’s family and his dating life, which Baidu criticised as “malicious” in June.

Baidu, which has a market valuation of $79 billion, did not respond to Reuters requests for more details on the matter.

The blogger, whose nickname translates to “one-man-show at 7:30 p.m.”, first flagged he was being sued by Baidu in a post on his Weibo account on Wednesday, adding he had received a court subpoena earlier this month.

He also said in the post that Baidu had asked him to pay a compensation of 5 million yuan ($731,529) and pin an apology on his Weibo account for 30 days.

“Baidu said I caused serious damage to Baidu’s image and its perception by society,” he added, while pointing out that the joke had only been up for three days before Weibo, owned by SINA Corp, took it down.

The blogger said he had rejected mediation and the case was still under trial.

“As a comedy writer who is partly involved in the circle of stand up comedians, I’ve known for a long time how difficult it is to do satire in such an environment. But I didn’t realise that it had deteriorated to such an extent,” he said.

China has intensified its crackdown on content deemed to be in violation of so-called ‘socialist core values’ under President Xi Jinping and in March put a ban on video parodies.

However, it has a fairly lively online community of bloggers, who frequently respond to breaking events with humorous - and sometimes risqué - sketches and short videos, although their posts are often taken down. ($1 = 6.8350 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Brenda Goh and Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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