China debuts search engine aimed at teens which blocks ‘harmful’ content

1 min read
Interface of teenager tailored search engine Young (Image credit: Young)

State-owned Xinhua News Agency announced at a Thursday press conference the official launch of a mobile search app created for China’s 200 million internet users under the age of 18.

Why it’s important: “Young” mobile search app is one of several initiatives authorities are taking to create a “healthy cyberspace” for juveniles. Authorities have blocked “harmful information” including content containing violence, pornography, and gambling, according to executives from Chinaso Inc., Xinhua News Agency-backed developer behind the app.

  • The app will also be an online channel through which the state promotes its core socialist values, according to Xinhua.

“The app has recorded more than 10 million downloads since we launched the trial in June.”

Wang Yanbo, Young mobile app’s chief operating officer

Details: After registering an account including disclosing age and gender, the ad-free app recommends personalized content for teenagers, such as animation and online English courses. The app uses artificial intelligence (AI) technology, big data, and deep learning-based algorithms for its content recommendations.

  • The app provides users access to a content pool including self-developed and external sources. Content includes English studies, educational videos, sports, and cartoons.
  • Parents are allowed set screen time restrictions and access their child’s browsing history.
  • Several other major Chinese state media outlets including People’s Daily and China Central Television (CCTV) are also backing the project.
  • Xinhua is partnering with Tencent’s youth-targeted unit DN.A (Digital Natives Action) to create high-quality content, some of which is already up on the platform.

Context: The search engine is an extension of the country’s efforts to clean up its internet.

  • The move comes after authorities in May launched campaigns against online addiction on a slew of popular video platforms to restrict teenage user time spent.
  • An online cleanup campaign launched at the beginning of January led to the shut down of more than 700 websites and 9,300 apps over the course of the month, according to the Cyber Administration of China.