Chinese social e-commerce app Xiaohongshu apologized for “deceitful” reviews of tourist attractions on the platform over the weekend to address mounting customer complaints. 

Why it matters: Xiaohongshu first emerged as a trusted review platform for China’s young middle-class consumers. But over the past few years, the company has struggled to maintain users’ trust due to misleading and fraudulent reviews.

  • Travel and tourism spot recommendation is an increasingly popular category on Xiaohongshu in addition to reviews of consumer products from cosmetics to garments.

READ MORE: Xiaohongshu battles to regain user trust amid KOL purge

Details: Xiaohongshu, also known as Little Red Book or RED, issued a statement on Sunday to offer their “sincere apologies” for failing to provide trustworthy reviews.

  • The app came under fire in the past few weeks. Users found some travel reviews from the app exaggerated the scenery by showing pictures with heavy beautifying filters.
  • A Weibo hashtag titled “Drastic contrast of filtered pics on Xiaohongshu” had attracted 400 million views as of Monday morning.
  • Xiaohongshu said in the statement that they will give more exposure to reviews that could help users to avoid such “traps.”
  • The app said it already required users and KOLs to avoid using too many beauty filters, especially when giving recommendations for cosmetics, fashion, and stores. The company reminds users that their reviews could be used to influence buying decisions before they post to the platform.

Context: Once an internet darling, Xiaohongshu has struggled in recent years to balance a scalable monetization model while maintaining its community feel. It has previously battled user trust issues and is facing fierce competition from other platforms. 

  • Xiaohongshu has received investments from Alibaba and Tencent. It is rare for two Chinese tech rivals to invest in the same company.
  • The company is reportedly mulling a Hong Kong stock market debut as soon as this year after suspending a proposed New York IPO plan this July due to Beijing’s stricter reins on overseas listings.

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.