Like Roman dictators, consumer brands in China have good reason to beware the Ides of March. It’s the date of the national broadcaster’s consumer rights gala, a two-hour festival of exposés famous for undercover sting operations.

The annual broadcast, known as the “3.15 Gala” after its date, is appointment television, promising embarrassing revelations about well-known companies. It can drive consumer outrage and crackdowns from regulators, and it’s often followed by unwelcome attention from other media. 

This year, tech came under heavy fire. Out of nine segments in the broadcast, the first four focused on allegations about misuse of technology. Well-known brands like Qihoo 360 search, UC browser, and the job search sites Zhilian and Liepin came under fire for accusations related to false advertising and poor privacy protection. At least five companies saw their apps kicked off Chinese app stores in the days following the show.

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Shi Jiayi

Shi Jiayi is the Shanghai-based visual reporter helping provide multimedia elements about China’s fast-changing technology and culture. She holds a B.A. in Convergence Journalism from the University...

Emma Lee

Emma Lee is Shanghai-based tech writer, covering startups and tech happenings in China and Asia in general. We are looking for stories related to tech and China. Reach her at lixin@technode.com.