China’s premier search engine bashed over student’s death

Baidu, China’s premier search engine, is in the eye of yet another public relations storm, following the death earlier this month of 21-year-old student Wei Zexi.

Wei had received a controversial cancer treatment at a Beijing hospital after finding an advertisement on Baidu. The treatment, which reportedly cost him and his family around 200,000 yuan (under $31,000) was not successful. Wei died in mid-April.

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Now, the Internet giant is being accused by state media and net users of not being strict enough in checking the credentials of the hospitals that it allows to advertise on its pages.

Critics accuse Internet search engines like Baidu of placing profit considerations over consumer safety by allowing companies who pay more to appear higher in their rankings, even when such companies may not be suitably qualified to provide the best service. 

It was unclear as of Sunday evening the precise nature of allegations against Baidu, and there have been no formal allegations of wrongdoing against the company.

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After news of Wei Zexi’s death had been widely shared on the Internet, Baidu responded on Thursday by saying they had previously examined the hospital Wei had gone for treatment, the Second Hospital of Beijing Armed Police Corps, and found it was a high-quality facility.

On Sunday, after the reputation and practices of the hospital had been called into question, Baidu said it would “proactively” look into the credentials of the hospital under scrutiny and called on related authorities to give “high priority” to the case.

Content Courtesy: SixthTone

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