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China regulates web directories to contain illegal websites

China's Internet regulator has started a campaign regulating web directories, ordering their managers not to list banned sites or arrange the lists based solely on how much the sites pay.

Web directories, which provide selections of website links organized by category, "should recommend authoritative and credible websites to netizens, provide services in accordance with the law and reject online rumors, scams, pornography and violence," said the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) in a statement on Thursday.

Earlier this month, the CAC ordered the country's leading search-engine, Baidu, to change its model of paid listings and stop ranking search results solely according to price-tags, after an investigation found Baidu's search results influenced the treatment choice of Wei Zexi, a young cancer patient.

Wei died after undergoing a controversial cancer treatment, which was advertised on Baidu, at a Beijing hospital, which the Wei family also found through a Baidu search.

In Thursday's statement, the CAC required operators of web directories to assign editors-in-chief to regulate news content, strengthen reviews of websites' credentials and be more receptive to members of the public informing them of questionable content.

It demands that mainstream media are given better rankings to ensure their voices are heard by the people.

The CAC will accelerate the drafting of regulations on web directories' services, it said.

Eight major Chinese web directories, including hao123.com and 2345.com, issued a joint response to the CAC vowing to follow its orders.

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