News and content aggregator Jinri Toutiao has issued another apology involving heroes and martyrs, this time for advertising appearing in search results that was “disrespectful to heroes”, according to Tencent News (in Chinese). The apology to the public and heroes (英烈) and their families stated that this was a grave error and all such placements have been stopped and the advertising placements team and leader have been suspended.
The public apology states that Jinri Toutiao will “reflect on the adverse social impact” caused by the search engine advertising. It blamed its marketing department for its handling of an advertising agency that programmed key words that triggered certain ads.
The apology involves yet more soul searching for Jinri Toutiao:
“We are full of respect and gratitude for contributions heroes made to the nation. Any acts of ridiculing or disrespecting the heroes cannot be tolerated and strongly violates the values we uphold. We are launching a company-wide education [campaign] on martyrs and gratitude. From the depths of our hearts, we will put a stop to the recurrence of any such issues.”
Jinri Toutiao first came under fire for potentially falling foul of China’s new Heroes and Martyrs Protection Law in mid May by carrying a satirical comic (Baozou Comic, 暴走漫画). The comic used the story of Communist soldier Dong Cunrui blowing himself up to destroy a Kuomintang bunker in the Chinese Civil War to make jokes, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The Culture and Tourism Ministry accused Jinri Toutiao of allowing the negative portrayal of a martyr. The comic producer apologized, as did Jinri Toutiao which also removed the content.
The law was brought in on May 1 and Jinri Toutiao said it had already taken down 60,000 offending videos and 17,000 news pieces, and closed over 8,000 accounts in the first two weeks of the law, in a statement released June 1, according to the WSJ.
On May 31 the Culture and Tourism Ministry announced it was going to investigate and implement administrative punishments against Baozu Comics and investigate Jinri Toutiao for not fulfilling its responsibilities, according to Tencent News.