Order from Cyberspace Administration of China comes after inquiry prompted by death of college student with cancer

(From Caixin Online)

By staff reporter Zhang Erchi

The government has told search giant Baidu Inc. that it cannot rank results solely based on an amount of money it received, as it deals with a public furor over the death of a cancer patient who had complained that the search giant led him to shoddy treatment.

Baidu HQ
Baidu HQ

The Cyberspace Administration of China, the government body that supervises the country’s Internet, said in a statement on its website on May 9 that Baidu “cannot rank search results merely based on the amount of money” that the company’s customers pay.

That statement comes after a team of investigators led by officials from the Cyberspace Administration was sent to investigate Baidu, the official Xinhua News Agency said on May 2.

That inquiry came in response to a public outcry over the death of Wei Zexi, a college student who died of a rare cancer in April after receiving a treatment he learned about through a Baidu search. Wei wrote in an Internet post before he died that his health deteriorated after the treatment, for which his family paid 200,000 yuan, and said he felt Baidu misled him.

The Cyberspace Administration’s statement on May 9 would seem to support that complaint, saying Baidu’s search algorithm “influenced Wei’s medical choices” and “affected the fairness and objectivity of search results.”

The State Administration for Industry and Commerce will also draft policies for regulating online ads, the statement said. Read more

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