Following repeated press reports of fraudulent online marketing, CCTV reports it now has evidence that Chinese Internet search engine Baidu.com (BIDU) is engaged in dubious activities.
In a recent news program, CCTV cited a game player surnamed Han as saying that Baidu ranked websites based on the money they paid regardless of the service quality the website provided to netizens. Han, a computer game fan, said he contacted a website that ranked at the top of Baidu's search engine to buy some game coins. He paid CNY600 for the coins, but was not given any reply from the seller and realized he was cheated by that website. Han was angry that Baidu.com would place such a cheating website at the top position of its search engine ranking.
Currently most of the search engine service providers are providing search marketing services based on the amount of fees that clients pay instead of the quality of the service they provide or the amount of links back to the website, which is how Google's algorithm generally works. All these problems have resulted in a crisis of credibility for these search engine operators and has posed a bottleneck for the development of the search industry in China.
Legal experts quoted in local media say that there is not a law to regulate the behavior of the search engine service providers, so the only thing they can do is to suggest consumers not to rely too much on the search results of those search engines.
Furthermore, it appears that Baidu itself should not be held accountable for the behavior of its advertising clients. While the search engine firm should do the responsible thing and investigate Han's claims and perhaps remove the website in question as a client, buyers of online services should always take steps to ensure they have done their research prior to engaging in online commerce.