Briefing: Baidu under attention for scam ads in US consulate search results

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Baidu apologises for ‘scam ads’ that showed up in search for US consulate in Shanghai —SCMP

What happened: China’s most popular search engine Baidu apologized after being publicly slammed by a user on Weibo in a post that went viral. The user encountered a number of advertisements for visa agencies during her search instead of the official site of the US consulate in Shanghai. The user named Liu Liu asked Baidu and its founder Robin Li if their business was search engines or fraud.

Why it’s important: The search engine is Baidu’s biggest business but also its biggest pain spot. In 2016, Baidu came under attention when a young cancer patent accused the search engine of sending him towards a medical institution offering fake treatment and eventually his death. Baidu lost a fair chunk of its advertising income after scrubbing its search engine clean of suspicious medical ads. The new scandal also brings attention to Google’s possible return to China: many polls have shown that the Chinese would prefer Baidu’s foreign competitor.