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China's search engine Baidu is to be punished for pornography and commercialization

January 18
10:39 PM 2016

China's main search engine, Baidu, is facing punishment over claims of pornographic contents and false medical ad. The claims were gathered from public complaints about the Nasdaq-listed company. Some of the complaints also mentioned leaks of personal information.

Recently, China's internet users accused Baidu over violation of moral and ethics when the company sold one of its illness-related forum, Tieba, to unlicensed private hospitals. The hospitals, then in charge of the forum's management, used the platforms to advertise poor-quality service care, according to Forbes. Baidu has apologized on this matter and resolved to only cooperate with non-profit organisations for its forum's management. 

In addition to that, it's also reported by The State Internet Information Office that some search results provided by Baidu are not impartial or objective. Also, its news channel has been caught spreading harmful information involving violence and terrorism. Baidu was accused of having no moral and would be boycott.

Previously, Baidu also faced complaints that said it alters search result to feature paying-sites, despite their ranks and quality. China's internet users despised the commercialization posed by Baidu and filed complaints and critics to the regulator.

IBTimes said that in February 2011, Baidu also faced monopoly complaints from Chinese encyclopaedia website Hudong, which claimed a compensation of $120.3 million. Last year, Baidu took a $33,800 fine for carrying online publications without permit and uploading pornographic contents to its app. For the recent accusations, It is yet to be announced the kind or amount of punishment for the search engine company. 

Baidu quickly apologized regarding the accusations. "We've heard a broad range of criticism and advice from media and netizens, as well as the voices of Tieba users. This incident has exposed a dereliction of duty in the management of our Tieba commercialization," said the statement posted on Baidu's official Weibo account.

But the apology didn't seem to satisfy all the parties who filed complaints and critics. Even after that, a group of 36 non-profits still took it up to Beijing Administration of Industry and Commerce with accusations of violating China's advertising law, according to Financial Times.

While managing the Tieba forums, the unlicensed hospitals and pharmaceutical companies gave advices on health-related topics, mainly on high blood pressure, liver disease, vascular disease and uterine fibroids. They also delete posts questioning their credentials, while advertising for crude health services.

However, regulators did not specify what type of punishment awaits the company due to pornography and false advertising.

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