Caixin
Dec 30, 2017 06:45 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

Toutiao, Phoenix News Punished for Allegedly Spreading Porn

China’s cyberspace watchdog on Friday temporarily suspended two popular mobile news apps, Toutiao and Phoenix News, for allegedly spreading pornographic content and operating without relevant licenses. Photo: IC
China’s cyberspace watchdog on Friday temporarily suspended two popular mobile news apps, Toutiao and Phoenix News, for allegedly spreading pornographic content and operating without relevant licenses. Photo: IC

Toutiao and Phoenix News, two of China's popular news apps, were punished by the internet watchdog for spreading pornographic content and providing news services without the necessary licenses.

The Beijing Cyberspace Administration ordered Toutiao, operated by Beijing Bytedance Technology Co. Ltd., to suspend updating six news channels, including Recommendations, Hotspot and Business, for 24 hours beginning from 6 P.M. Friday. Meanwhile, Phoenix News, run by New York-listed Phoenix New Media Ltd., was told to suspend updating two channels for 12 hours.

The regulator also said Toutiao didn’t have a license to operate an online news service. Phoenix News had also committed irregularities while distributing news content, despite having a license to repost news reports from other media, the cyberspace authority said. Phoenix News has been reporting and publishing original news stories, without a relevant government license to do so, according to the internet watchdog.

Distributing pornographic or vulgar content has become a common practice among mobile apps, due to fierce competition for users and advertisers. This has prompted an official crackdown on alleged obscene content from time to time. For example, the Ministry of Culture has launched a broad fight against pornographic content in live-streaming videos in recent years.

As one of the nation's most popular news aggregators, Toutiao operates an app that allows users to customize the news feeds they receive, attracting hundreds of millions of downloads, as well as multiple investors.

Phoenix New Media, a sister company of Hong Kong-based Chinese language TV network of Phoenix TV, is an online media company providing content on an integrated platform via the Internet, mobile and TV channels.

Heads of both apps said they will investigate and correct their wrongdoings, and tighten oversight on information services and staff.

Contact reporter Lin Jinbing (jinbinglin@caixin.com)


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