Briefing: WeChat to remove ‘drift bottle’ feature citing concerns over illicit content

 WeChat cancels drift bottle citing porn and prostitutes – SCMP

What happened: Tencent will remove its ‘drift bottle’ feature from WeChat, which allowed users to send voice and text messages for strangers to pick up within the app. The tech giant has said the system was used to “disseminate pornography and solicit prostitutes.” The move comes after it received user complaints and media attention for the illicit use of the messaging service.

Why it’s important: The planned removal comes as Chinese companies police their platforms more strictly amid increased pressure from regulators. Authorities have been pushing to clean up “vulgar” content, fake accounts, and rumors on the internet. Short video services have previously been some of the hardest hit, but it has also extended to gaming and news platforms. Recently Baidu was fined RMB 600,000 for circulating ads containing pornography, gambling, and violence. The industry crackdown has led to the closure of 9,800 social media accounts on WeChat, Weibo, Baidu, and Jinri Toutiao.