Internet regulator cracks down on music and audio-based social platforms

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China’s top internet regulator, the Cyber Administration of China (CAC), has tightened its grip on music apps and audio-focused social platforms, punishing a total of 26 apps for lowbrow and other non-compliant content.

Among the apps removed from major Chinese Android app stores were NetEase Cloud Music, audio platform Lizhi FM and Ximalaya FM, and social app Soul. The apps still appear in app stores, but in place of their descriptions is a message: “According to related laws and regulations, this app is not available for download.”

As of writing, these apps are still available for download on Apple’s China App Store.

In a statement issued on June 28, the CAC censured audio live-streaming platforms for allowing livestreamers to post illicit content, including sexually suggestive videos. Similarly, audio social platforms such as Soul and Yuwan were found to be allowing users to spread sex service-related information.

According to media outlet TechWeb, Soul said that it would investigate and “rigorously review related content and functionalities” to fully comply with regulations.

The CAC also accused audio platforms of hosting audio books that promote “historical nihilism” and superstition, such as those featuring “celestial beings and spirits” and zombies. It also criticized the platforms for giving underage users unlimited access to such content.

Music apps were berated for disseminating sexually suggestive songs and promoting anime, comics, and games (ACG)-related interests.

The purpose of the cleanup campaign, the statement said, is to encourage orderly industry development and create an internet audio space that is “healthy in theme and rich in positive energy.”

However, dating app Tantan, which was removed from Apple’s App Store and Chinese Android stores in May for allowing sex services through the platform, has recently been restored on several Android stores including those run by Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo, media outlet Rancaijing reported.