TOKYO -- Japanese mobile gaming giant DeNA shifted into damage control mode Thursday, effectively closing eight additional curated-content websites and apologizing for quality issues.
The company has taken much criticism over editorial standards that sacrifice credibility for popularity and high search rankings. The scandal is bound to harm its brand and business performance -- and only adds to the growing concern about the reliability of information online.
DeNA effectively pulled the plug Tuesday on its WELQ health site after rising complaints of inaccuracies, including an article that blamed spirits for stiff shoulders.
The company then determined that eight other popular curated-content sites, including Find Travel, were similarly problematic. Only the MERY fashion site remains.
In a personal apology on DeNA's corporate website, CEO Isao Moriyasu said Thursday that the other sites' instructions to writers could be interpreted as suggesting plagiarism. "I cannot view this as being morally correct," Moriyasu wrote, explaining that he would forgo 30% of his salary for six months to take responsibility.
A curated website collects content and posts it on a page that is free to browse, generating revenue from ads. So the goal is to bring as many eyes to the page as possible, and the shortcut to success is to rank near the top of results from such sites as Google via search engine optimization. For its curated sites, DeNA was using outside writers to generate and post large numbers of articles in order to get search engine hits no matter what keywords were entered.