Controversial online search results again came into the spotlight as a provincial government warned students of potential pitfalls in applying for university admission.
Students uploading the results of their gaokao college entrance exams shouldn’t use search engines to find official university application sites, Shanxi province’s office in charge of application management said. Doing so would put them at risk of “entering other sites accidentally,” which might result in "invalid applications" or "compromises of personal information," the office said.
Instead, student should directly type the official address, the office said.
Although the government unit did not specify any search engines, the warning quickly drew attention to Baidu, the search giant that has been frequently criticized for misleading results. Baidu told Caixin it highly respects gaokao-related searches and has put labels on official sites while flagging sites that have safety issues with warnings.
Searching the Chinese name of the official Shanxi application site on Baidu directly turns up the official link, but searching key words such as “Shanxi, application submission” results in nonofficial or even commercial application guidance services. The same outcome occurred when entering related key words in other search engines such as Sogou and Bing.