Short video app Kuaishou launches youth control feature

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Short video app Kuaishou launched on Thursday a “youth mode” that restricts underage user access on the platform, following Douyin in creating in-app ecosystems designed specifically for young users.

Upon opening the app, a notice pops up asking whether users want to turn on youth mode, which limits users to a total of 40 minutes of use per day and locks the app from 10 p.m. until 6 a.m. the next day. The feature was rolled out at the request of the Cyberspace Administration of China, according to an announcement on the administration’s website.

On youth mode, users are blocked from accessing the default search function or using the “discover within a city” feature, which is essentially a feed of images, videos and livestreams pulled from other users in the same city. Activities such as sending cash gifts, topping-up and withdrawing cash are also locked.

Based on TechNode’s observations, the feed for young users contains only videos, most of which are about sports, music, Chinese calligraphy, and pets. Compared with an unrestricted feed, youth mode filters content that could be considered sexually suggestive, such as females posing for videos in figure-hugging or overly revealing clothing, a common sight on the platform.

Tencent-backed Kuaishou has taken no measures to make the mode mandatory. Users can simply skip the pop-up notice and use the app without restrictions.

The new youth mode appears to be an update to the “parent monitoring mode” Kuaishou launched in April 2018, which added the time-limit feature and removed some “non-educational” content such as game videos. Kuaishou introduced the parent monitoring mode five days after the Cyberspace Administration of China reprimanded the company for spreading lowbrow content and ordered reforms.

Earlier this month, Bytedance-owned Douyin also officially rolled out its version of youth mode with similar functionalities, as EEO previously reported (in Chinese). The youth mode was updated today at the request of the Cyberspace Administration of China to impose the same restrictions on user time as Kuaishou. According to a post on Douyin’s official WeChat account, the new version also features detection mechanisms that identify underage users and automatically switches them to youth mode.

Correction: This article has been corrected to reflect that Douyin’s youth mode limits user time and has detection mechanisms for underage users. An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that it limits use time with a different feature.