Yesterday, the State Administration of Radio and Television (SAPPRFT) ordered Toutiao to permanently close down Toutiao’s joke app Neihan Duanzi (内涵段子) for vulgar content. The announcement followed only a day after SAPPRFT ordered the suspension of Toutiao app and three other popular news apps.
In the open letter, Zhang said:
“Jinri Toutiao will permanently shut down the Neihan Duanzi and the app’s official account. The product took the wrong turn. The content that appears [on Neihan Duanzi] go against core socialist values and we did not do a thorough job in guiding public opinion. Therefore, we accept the penalty and I take full responsibility for it.”
Zhang added that Toutiao had been emphasizing their recommendation algorithms too much and neglected the fact that technology should be guided by core socialist values.
Zhang said that Toutiao’s “rectification” process will be based on two key foci. First, Toutiao will implement the “right values” into its technology and products. Second, it will focus on reinstating order within the Toutiao community.
The company will be expanding its team responsible reviewing and auditing the content from the current 6000 to 10,000 staff members. Toutiao will also set up a “blacklist system” and establish a measure to protect underage users. Zhang announced that April will be the month of rectification and the company will install a rectification council to thoroughly investigate existing issues in Toutiao products.
The Chinese government is serious about clamping down “inappropriate content” on the internet and has been making big moves to clean up some of China’s most popular sites and apps.