Regulators suspend three reading platforms for lowbrow content

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The National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications (NOAPIP) on Tuesday requested regulators, including the Cyber Administration of China (CAC), to suspend the service of three reading platforms for up to three months.

Why it matters: A new wave of cleanups targeting online reading platforms comes just two months after the last. The increasingly frequent inspections and punishments highlight NOAPIP’s determination to rein in the online reading industry.

  • The three suspended apps are Midu Novel, Beijing-based Jinjiang Wenxue Cheng, and Bytedance’s Tomato Novel. Besides top-ranked Midu Novel, Jingjiang Wenxue Cheng is ranked 14th and Tomato Novel is far lower, 97th on Apple’s China App Store free reading app download rankings as of Tuesday afternoon, according to online data providers Qimai.

Details: In the notice dated Tuesday, the NOAPIP censured the three platforms for allowing lowbrow and sexually suggestive content, which “damaged readers’ interests” as well as “corrupted the industry’s culture.”

  • Jinjiang Wenxue Cheng was suspended for 15 days, whereas Tomato Novel and Midu Novel were ordered to cease operations for three months. All three platforms were ordered to issue statements explaining the situation.
  • Jinjiang Wenxue Cheng pledged to conduct content reviews and technical upgrades during the 15-day ban, according to a post from its official Weibo account.

Context: Online reading platforms have long been accused of sexually explicit or borderline sexual content and have been punished a number of times. Just two months ago, the NOAPIP issued a 15-day ban for Jinjiang Wenxue Cheng and seven-day ban for Tencent backed Qidian Wenxue for content of this category.

  • Back in 2015, Jinjiang Wenxue Cheng has implemented a policy to avoid descriptions of any body part below the neck for all of its novels.
  • The two novels that got Jinjiang Wenxue Cheng banned in May 2019, according to a report from 36Kr, had a very small readership and were last updated in 2015.