Chinese News App Toutiao Punished for Erotic Content

By Jonathan Zhong, November 14, 2018

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One of the most popular news apps in China, Toutiao, is in trouble after it was found allowing users to publish pornographic content.

According to ifeng.com, on November 5 the news reading app was ordered to remove 16 stories which were deemed to contain pornographic content from its ‘story’ section, a platform that allows users to publish their own works of fiction. The story section of Toutiao has been put under a one-month suspension, during which time no new content can be published (the section is still accessible, though).

The titles of these erotic stories include: ‘After a Night of Debauchery, That Man Turned Out to Be Her New Boss’ and ‘In Order to Earn Money to Treat My Mom’s Illness, I Worked at a Nightclub and Was Surprised that My First Customer Was My Teacher.’

Though the punishment has been meted out, this is not the first time the news app, which touts itself as the ‘porter of news,’ has been a target of a crackdown on pornographic content. According to Sohu.com, in January of last year Toutiao was shown to have published topics such as ‘why aren’t mistresses of corrupted officials good-looking?’ and ‘what are girls who are seemingly shy but horny inside like?’

In April 2017, CCTV criticized Bytedance, the company behind Toutiao and video-sharing phenomenon TikTok, for allowing lewd videos to circulate on its video platform Huoshan Live Stream.

READ MORE: Facebook's New Video App Lasso Rips Off China's TikTok

Toutiao is not the only app that has been targeted for discipline: another news app called Doubao Kuaixun was also punished for similar reasons two days after the Toutiao case. 

This coincides with a campaign launched on October 20 by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) to clamp down on ‘WeMedia disorder,’ addressing issues ranging from publishing ‘politically harmful information’ and distorting national history to spreading fake news and pornographic content. 

The term ‘WeMedia’ refers to news-sharing accounts run by independent content creators on social media platforms such as WeChat and Weibo, which often have massive fanbases and influence. 

Currently, the campaign has ‘dealt with’ more than 9,800 WeMedia accounts, including @唐纳德说 (literally ‘Donald Says’), @深夜视频 (‘Midnight Video’) and @万能福利吧 (‘the Omnipotent Hub for Horny Stuff,’ not so omnipotent now, are you?), along with issuing warnings to WeChat and Weibo for ill-management of their platforms.

[Cover image via sohu.com]

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