In our technology-fueled world, a search engine wields a lot of power. Nearly 95% of all Internet experiences start with a search engine, with over 100 billion searches being conducted worldwide each month. With these numbers, you would expect your search engine to be trustworthy, right? Just look at Google's famous motto, "Don't be evil."
Well for users of Baidu, China's answer to Google, trust might be too much to ask for. This July, Baidu is in hot water for the second time this year.
In May, the search engine giant was investigated for promoting false medical information and treatments that led to the death of a college student. Now, the Chinese search giant is under investigation for promoting illegal gambling websites on their platform, too.
Online gambling is illegal in China, but these gambling ads sprout up during the nighttime on Baidu. They are especially prominent between 10 p.m. and 9 a.m. and are used most often on the weekends.
These online gambling sites appear legitimate, because they use third party advertising agencies to post paid ads on Baidu's site, boasting a label saying 'Baidu Sponsored', along with a business license and professional Baidu certification mark. The advertisements would only appear at night, and then once clicked the user would be directed to the illegal gambling websites.
And, it works. These online gambling dens have seen an influx of users and a rising popularity. The site Venetian Macao has topped the search result page and reports a revenue equivalent to $3.1 million. Once, the site attracted 150,000 gamblers in just 30 minutes.
Baidu reported the case to the Chinese police and identified loopholes in their system. They deny cooperating at all with any of these illegal sites.
Unfortunately for Baidu, the Cyberspace Administration of China isn't too happy with the situation, saying that they would launch a formal investigation into the incident. They also urge all search engines in China, including Baidu, to closely observe the new Internet search regulations that were released nationwide in June.
In response, Baidu's CEO reported that the company as a whole has banned 8,600 gambling websites from their search engine, and 7,200 gambling-related keywords in the first quarter of 2016.
The Internet is a big place, and it's important you deal with professionals that you can trust when dealing with paid search ads, PPC, and SEO campaigns. The professionals here at Front Man Marketing are here to help, so contact us today for any Internet marketing needs you may have!