China-based search engine Baidu has been ordered to cut down on paid-for advertising by Chinese regulators, following the death of a student who purchased cancer treatment from an ad.
The fatality led many to accuse Baidu of failing to perform adequate checks on businesses and products purchasing advertising space, resulting in the platform’s PR promising to reorder results based on credibility as opposed to price paid.
However, this was not enough for the Cyberspace Administration of China, which felt that Baidu was putting “too much weight” on paid-for results which were “not clearly marked”.
In accordance, the agency has decreed that Baidu make four key changes: clean-up healthcare adverts, ban the promotion of unapproved medical bodies, fix the rankings system and limit paid-for ads at 30% per search results page.
“Baidu should provide better and more reliable search services,” said Baidu senior executive in charge of search Xiang Hailong in the statement.