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In a latest move, China’s internet regulator has said that search engines should tighten management of paid-for ads in search results. It makes clear which results are paid-for and limiting their numbers.
The Chinese government already exercises widespread controls over the internet and has sought to codify that policy in law.
Chinese regulators last month imposed limits on the number of lucrative healthcare adverts carried by Baidu following the death of a student who underwent an experimental cancer treatment which he found using China’s biggest internet search engine.
Wei Zexi, 21, died in April of a rare form of cancer, and the case sparked widespread public anger.
The Cyberspace Administration of China said search engines should investigate the aptitude of clients offering paid-for ads, set a clear upper limit on such ads and clearly distinguish which are paid-for ads and which come from “natural searches”.
Users have been particularly concerned with medical ads, which are a threat to people’s health, the regulator added.
Baidu did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Baidu’s CEO in May called on employees to put values before profit in response to the scandal around the death of Wei. Search engines also have other problems, the regulator said.