Chinese internet giant Baidu has halted its money-making plans on its health-related forums after finding that they had been hijacked by unqualified individuals and private hospitals.
Biadu Tieba, a group discussion service with over one billion users, has become increasingly popular with users discussing health topics, with sufferers visiting forums to receive suggestions managed by expert users.
According to Xinhua, a user named “Mayicai” claimed he had been replaced as administrator of the hemophilia forum by proven quack doctor Liu Shanxi. He claims that following Liu’s appointment, the popular group saw a surge in adverts for fake hemophilia cures.
It was revealed that over 40 percent of 3,259 forums on various diseases were sold to commercial organisations and personnel including unlicensed hospitals and quack doctors.
Sources claim that Baidu sells the 12 month rights to operate various forums on Tieba for between 30,000 yuan (about $4,500) to 60,000 yuan ($9,100). Another report indicated that the administration rights of a forum could be sold for at least 200,000 ($30,500) yuan annually.
Baidu has admitted some of its staff were seeking personal gain through advertisements. Since the revelations came to light, Baidu has announced it will hand over operation of these forums to non-profit organisations.
By Kitty Lai