Chinese news aggregator app Jinri Toutiao, along with three other similar apps, were taken offline from local app stores on Monday as Beijing moves to better regulate its cyberspace.
The three other apps that also got removed are Phoenix News, NetEase News, and Tiantian Kuaibao, which was backed by Chinese tech giant Tencent.
A recent check on some of Chinese Android marketplaces, such as Xiaomi’s MIUI app store returns no link to download these apps. The MI app store displaces a notice saying that the app we desired “is suspended due to its internal optimization process.”
In response to local media inquiring into the matter, a local regulatory body confirms that it has required Chinese app stores to take down the four abovementioned apps in an aim to regulate the order of information dissemination.
Bytedance, the maker behind JInri Toutiao, or Today’s Headlines, is no stranger to the crackdown. The company’s Toutiao app has been in and out of app stores under government orders for a variety of reasons, mostly over alleged inappropriate content such as “pornographic and vulgar content”, in addition to “bad influence in shaping online opinion.”
Toutiao is China’s most popular news app with over 120 million daily active users.
Previous, Toutiao and Kuaishou, one of the most popular Chinese live streaming services, were told by local authorities to clean up content on their platforms in the wake of criticisms from state media citing misleading medical advertisements and inappropriate content, including “vulgar, violent, gory, pornographic and harmful” content.
Earlier this year, Toutiao was reportedly hiring upwards of 2,000 people to staff a content review department that is currently manned by over 4,000 such reviewers, making the department the largest of its kind in China.
A Toutiao spokesperson didn’t respond to our request for comment.