After being pulled from major Chinese Android marketplaces last week, social e-commerce platform Xiaohongshu, or RED in overseas markets, was also removed from Apple’s local App Store on Saturday.

Why it matters: The complete removal from almost all major Chinese app stores highlights the regulatory challenges Xiaohongshu faces from hosting falsified and borderline illegal content, which has plagued the platform for more than a year.

Details: Xiaohongshu has started a “comprehensive round of self-review and self-reform” to cooperate with regulators, according to a statement on Weibo.

  • Users who have already installed the app are not affected.
  • A Xiaohongshu spokesperson previously said that Xiaohongshu wouldn’t be removed from Apple’s China App Store, claiming that the platform was collecting evidence to crack down on the “rumors” with law enforcement agencies.

Context: Xiaohongshu came under fire several times this year for lax oversight on fabricated product reviews, artificially boosted views and purchasing numbers, as well as reviews of regulated goods.

  • Xiaohongshu hosted 90,000 references to tobacco according to an investigation in April, with many ads disguised as product reviews.
  • In May, Xiaohongshu raised the bar of entry for KOLs on the platform in an effort to clean up the platform’s content ecosystem, slashing their number from 17,000 to 4,700.
  • The platform said it deleted on average 4,285 reviews per day due to inflated views in the second quarter of 2019. In the first quarter, the platform banned 1.8 million non-compliant user accounts and removed a total of 1.2 million posts for faking hits.

Tony Xu is Shanghai-based tech reporter. Connect with him via e-mail:

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