Can a fraud-free domain win over Chinese after Baidu scandal?

The controversy around Baidu’s search result ranking system has brought the trustworthiness of internet services to the attention of the Chinese population. Following the death of a cancer patient who was misled by into paying a hospital for an ineffective treatment, another leading search engine 360 has announced that it will stop promoting medical ads.

The Cyberspace Administration of China said in a statement on Monday that Baidu must change its search results ranking system from a paid ranking system to a system based on credibility.

False and misleading information on the internet has been a serious issue in China for a while. According to Liewang, a security company backed by the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Public Security and Qihoo 360, there were 24,886 reported online fraud cases in 2015 involving over RMB 127 million (USD 19.5 million). And the Baidu scandal only brought the public’s anger and fear towards the untrustworthy online world to the fore.

Maybe that is why the world’s first domain name dedicated to identifying websites’ level of credibility may gain popularity.

The domain .xin, taken from the word for “credibility”, was introduced by Alibaba’s cloud computing arm Aliyun in March. It allows netizens to decide whether to trust a website with a domain name ending in .xin by providing information about that website’s credibility based on rankings by Sesame Credit and Chengxintong, two services related to Alibaba.

The .xin domain attracted 150,000 registered users on the day of its debut and received 2,000 queries per second. Companies who have registered for a .xin domain include Microsoft, Baidu, Yahoo!, Xiaomi, and BMW. And it’s getting more and more users, amounting to over 300,000 by the end of March.

So credibility is the new fashion! The next time Chinese users go online for a very important piece of information, if the link does not have “.xin” as a domain, they might think twice before handing their trust to the site.

(Top photo edited from Baidu Images)

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