A Chinese micro-blogger pleaded guilty on Thursday to helping others delete critical posts and spread false information on the Internet, saying he did it for profit and to attract followers.
Yang Xiuyu, founder of Erma Co and also known online as "Lier Chaisi", stood trial at Beijing Chaoyang District People's Court, accused of illegal business operations after receiving 531,200 yuan ($86,300) to help clients remove unfavorable online posts and publish rumours from May 2012 to September 2013.
Yang, wearing a white T-shirt and gray pants, admitted his guilt to the charges after prosecutors publicly read the indictment.
The 41-year-old from Jilin province said during the trial that he signed contracts with businesses to help them monitor public opinion and eliminate negative posts about them.
"The companies gave me the information they wanted to delete first, and then I asked my colleague, Lu Mei, to find people to erase the posts," he said.
Lu, 31, the former media department head in Yang's company, also stood trial on Thursday on the same charge as Yang.
The woman from Hunan province, who was accused of seeking 220,200 yuan (S$44,553) from Yang for deleting some online posts for the businesses, also pleaded guilty, saying that eliminating posts mostly was called "public relations crisis management".
The court did not issue a ruling at the end of the trail.
In addition to deleting posts for money, Yang was also suspected of creating "news" to spark the public's attention and help raise his clients' public profiles.
For example, he once recruited a man to wear monk clothes and flirt with two women on a boat in Beijing, taking videos of the scene and posting it online, and then asked a painter surnamed An to comment on the case.