The investigation comes after the 21-year-old student wrote a blog post claiming that he received distorted information about the cancer treatment options available from promoted search results on the company’s website, reports the New York Times. The promoted search result was an ad from a hospital that recommended immunotherapy treatment for the student’s type of cancer when most cancer experts recommend surgery and chemotherapy. The student’s family spent $30,000 on the immunotherapy treatment, which did nothing to stop the student from passing away.
As the NYT notes, China has strict laws against false health advertising, but it’s not clear how those laws apply to online search results. “Billions of net users trusted Baidu for their search engine and online forum services, the company is hence responsible for the trust and is obligated to taking up their social responsibilities,” the government’s People’s Daily newspaper wrote. The investigation is ongoing.