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Stop Annoying China With Spam Texts, E-Commerce Giants Told

Matthew Walsh / Jun 17, 2021 06:44 PM / Business & Tech

Many of us have felt the familiar pang of irritation when a text message peddling some new sales gimmick appears unsolicited in our inboxes.

The problem is particularly familiar in China, where companies seem to have fewer qualms about bombarding consumers’ phones with special offers and marketing guff.

Besides being annoying, many of the texts actually violate the country’s laws and regulations — something the government now seems keen to clamp down on.

The industrial ministry has told some of China’s biggest e-commerce firms to regulate their use of promotional text messages ahead of Friday’s “618” shopping festival.

The order came at a meeting last week attended by the likes of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. — which operates the Taobao and Tmall online shopping platforms — JD.com Inc. and Pinduoduo Inc., according to a statement (link in Chinese) published Tuesday on the ministry’s website.

The companies in attendance pledged to “strictly manage” the use of such messages, the statement said.

Since the end of May, some e-commerce platforms have been sending registered users texts promoting “618” deals without fully confirming their consent to receive them, the ministry said.

It added that such actions had triggered user complaints, violated consumers’ rights and breached the Civil Code and rules governing the management of text-based telecommunications services.

Named after the date on which it is held — June 18 — “618” started out as an anniversary promotion for JD.com in 2004, but has since morphed into an annual online shopping bonanza.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com) and editor Joshua Dummer (joshuadummer@caixin.com)

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