Caixin
Apr 05, 2018 06:31 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

Online Media Giant Bans New Users From Uploading Clips

A viewer watches a short video on the Tik Tok mobile app, the overseas version of the Douyin video-streaming mobile app, which is operated by Jinri Toutiao's parent company. Photo: IC
A viewer watches a short video on the Tik Tok mobile app, the overseas version of the Douyin video-streaming mobile app, which is operated by Jinri Toutiao's parent company. Photo: IC

China’s largest online media company Jinri Toutiao has banned new members from uploading video clips, following an order by the regulator to clean up “inappropriate” content.

Toutiao will also scrutinize the accounts of current users, which could be “forever removed from the platform if they are found uploading illegal content,” the company said late Wednesday in a statement. The ban on uploading videos doesn’t apply to current users, it added.

The response came after a warning issued earlier the same day by the State Administration of Radio and Television (SART), which demanded Toutiao remove content deemed “vulgar, violent, obscene and harmful.”

Toutiao, which is adept at using sophisticated artificial intelligence-powered algorithms to distribute news to users, has developed quickly since its founding in 2012.

Beijing Byte Dance Telecommunications Co. Ltd., Toutiao’s parent company, has expanded from its origins as a news aggregator into the video-streaming sector, where its three platforms — Douyin, Huoshan and Xigua — have gained growing user bases.

These video sites, which also offer livestreaming, have mushroomed in the last few years as individuals use them as a way of expressing themselves and making money.

China’s video-streaming sector generated 5.7 billion yuan ($904 million) in revenue last year and this figure is expected to rise to 36 billion yuan over the next three years, according to industry consultancy iResearch.

But the government has struggled to regulate the booming industry, where changes in user behaviors and technology frequently outpace legislation.

Another video-streaming platform and Toutiao’s arch rival, Kuaishou, was singled out by SART Wednesday for failing to sufficiently censor users’ content. Kuaishou was accused of allowing mothers allegedly as young as 13 years old to livestream broadcasts of their babies and daily lives, arousing an outcry in the country.

The head of Kuaishou has since apologized and said it will change its algorithms so that they only recommend content that is “in keeping with the country’s laws and regulations, and with social norms.”

Contact reporter Mo Yelin (yelinmo@caixin.com)

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