Baidu's Shanghai company fined for illegal ads

Market watchdog imposes a fine of 670,000 yuan and confiscates fees totaling 134,010 yuan after violations of China's advertisement law.

Internet giant Baidu’s Shanghai company has been fined 670,000 yuan (US$97,000) and had advertising fees totaling 134,010 yuan confiscated for publishing illegal ads. 

The Shanghai Administration for Market Regulation said it published ads based on commission from hospitals such as Shanghai Nanpu Gynecology Hospital and Shanghai Xupu Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine and used key words of Shanghai Red House Ob & Gyn Hospital (Obstetrics & Gynecology Hospital of Fudan University), abortion of Shanghai Red House Ob & Gyn Hospital and Huashan Hospital in these ads between September 1, 2017 and September 22, 2018. 

Based on documents provided by Huashan Hospital, Eye & ENT Hospital of Fudan University, Obstetrics & Gynecology Hospital of Fudan University and Shanghai Proton and Heavy Ion Center, they had no cooperation or authorization relationship with the involved hospitals, the administration said. 

In addition, the ads published by the company in Jiading District also promised treatment effects, the administration said. 

It said the company had violated the advertisement law that stipulates ads must not contain fake or misleading content and must not cheat or mislead consumers. 

Ads for medical treatment, medicine and medical apparatus and instruments are banned from asserting or promising effects, safety or cure rates. 

In 2017, Baidu was fined for negligence in publishing unchecked advertising for unlicensed medical services and private companies. 

It was fined 28,000 yuan for allowing induced abortion advertisements by four hospitals not licensed for maternity and pediatric services, according to the former Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administration, now part of the market regulation administration. 

The bureau said the search engine failed to verify the content of medical advertisements before publication.

The four hospitals were fined a combined 46,000 yuan for illegal medical advertisements.

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