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posted by martyb on Friday April 13 2018, @06:54AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the dah_dit_dah_dit____dit____dah_dit____dit_dit_dit____dah_dah_dah____dit_dah_dit____dit____dah_dit_dit dept.

It Built an Empire of GIFs, Buzzy News and Jokes. China Isn't Amused.

A Chinese start-up that appears to have mastered the art of keeping people glued to their smartphones also has a knack for something else: drawing the ire of China's censors. The country's top media regulator on Tuesday ordered the company, Bytedance, to shut down its app for sharing jokes and silly videos. Vulgar content on the Neihan Duanzi app had "caused strong dislike among internet users," a brief notice from the State Administration of Radio and Television said. The company was told to clean up its other platforms, too.

The shutdown was only the latest blow for Bytedance, one of the world's most successful technology start-ups. Just a day earlier, its flagship app, a popular news aggregator called Jinri Toutiao, was pulled from app stores for unspecified reasons. And last week, Huoshan, the company's platform for sharing slice-of-life video clips, vanished from app stores after China's official television broadcaster rapped it for glorifying underage pregnancy.

In a statement posted Wednesday morning, Zhang Yiming, Bytedance's founder and chief executive, said he had spent the previous, sleepless night in deep reflection, gnawed by "a guilty conscience." "Content had appeared that did not accord with core socialist values and was not a good guide for public opinion," Mr. Zhang wrote. "Over the past few years, we put more effort and resources toward expanding the business, and did not take enough measures to supervise our platform." He added that Bytedance would expand its team for monitoring content to 10,000 people from 6,000 currently.

The company's travails show how the government in Beijing has broadened its restrictions on what people see and say on the internet. Regulators are increasingly suppressing content that they deem pornographic or in poor taste, and not merely material that touches on politically sensitive topics such as regime change or personal freedoms. The authorities are also scrambling to keep up as a new wave of Chinese apps, many of them built around short, spontaneously recorded video clips or live streams, helps people communicate and express themselves in new and hard-to-supervise ways.

See also: Car Horns Honk, and China's Internet Censors Swoop In
A Saucy App Knows China's Taste in News. The Censors Are Worried.


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  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 13 2018, @09:14AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 13 2018, @09:14AM (#666369)

    == CENSORED

    fwiw ;)

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 13 2018, @02:19PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 13 2018, @02:19PM (#666466)

      May I introduce the <spoiler> element to you... it creates such a nice thingy:

      Yeah, we all can decode morse but now some poor sod won't try it.

      Its syntax is unsurprisingly <spoiler>content goes here</spoiler>

  • (Score: 2, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 13 2018, @09:17AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 13 2018, @09:17AM (#666370)

    They have keenly observed that social media, meme and funny looking image macros are a way for people to express discontent and can be used to inject propaganda.

    • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Friday April 13 2018, @06:29PM

      by bob_super (1357) on Friday April 13 2018, @06:29PM (#666576)

      Given the latest election results, the Taiwanese trolls still have a lot to learn from the Russian ones.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by RamiK on Friday April 13 2018, @10:08AM

    by RamiK (1813) on Friday April 13 2018, @10:08AM (#666384)

    In a statement posted Wednesday morning, Zhang Yiming, Bytedance's founder and chief executive, said he had spent the previous, sleepless night in deep reflection, gnawed by "a guilty conscience."

    http://en.faluninfo.eu/2005/09/06/water-dungeon [faluninfo.eu]

    --
    compiling...
  • (Score: 5, Funny) by realDonaldTrump on Friday April 13 2018, @10:34AM (3 children)

    by realDonaldTrump (6614) on Friday April 13 2018, @10:34AM (#666394) Homepage Journal

    Let me tell you about China. They were losing a lot of people because of the Internet. To ISIS, to Falun Gong, to the alt-left. So they went to go see Cisco -- the cyber folks, not the rapper -- and a lot of different people that really understand what's happening. And they closed up that Internet. They call it the Golden Shield. It's not really gold, it's cyber. But it's been tremendous for their Country. Economically, militarily, in every way. No more protests. No more terror attacks. President Xi, he's now President for Life. And he's great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. Maybe we'll have to give that a shot someday. Somebody will say, "oh, freedom of speech, freedom of speech." These are foolish people. You look at China before 1949, before the Communists. Their Country was VERY WEAK. The whole world was taking advantage of them. Like we're being taken advantage of. And the whole world was laughing at them. Like we're being laughed at. That's got to stop. And part of stopping it is taking back our Internet. And closing up our Internet.

    I just signed a terrific new law, we don't call it censorship. We call it FOSTA. We call it SESTA. It's very bipartisan, which I love. It closes our Internet to hookers. And to the guys -- the perverts -- who pay hookers for sex. Believe me, it's going to make our Country much stronger.

    SoylentNews, they don't call it censorship. They call it "an algorithm." Where the Moderators say, "oh, look at that tweet, it's Spam, how terrible!" And the Administrators say, "oh yes, that's Spam." Or "no it isn't Spam." But either way, the "algorithm" says that the person who tweeted can't tweet any more. "An algorithm" banned Ethanol-fueled from tweeting. Aryanx277 and Jondraper88, "an algorithm" hid their journals. And "an algorithm" hides EVERYBODY'S journal from the search engines, from the SEO. For a blogger, SEO is so important. So important. So they put in "an algorithm" to stop the SEO. Very smart!!!!

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 13 2018, @02:16PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 13 2018, @02:16PM (#666464)

    In a statement posted Wednesday morning, Zhang Yiming, Bytedance's founder and chief executive, said he had spent the previous, sleepless night in deep reflection, gnawed by "a guilty conscience." "Content had appeared that did not accord with core socialist values and was not a good guide for public opinion," Mr. Zhang wrote. "Over the past few years, we put more effort and resources toward expanding the business, and did not take enough measures to supervise our platform." He added that Bytedance would expand its team for monitoring content to 10,000 people from 6,000 currently.

    s/Zhang Yiming/Mark Suckerberg/
    Platforms where people can speak freely are annoying to the people who can ban them. Unlike Suckerberg, Zhang is at immediate risk of getting thrown into a dungeon if he doesn't comply, but let the propaganda drum up for a little more, and Suckerberg too can be like the backpage guy.

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