Days after being removed from distribution, Alibaba-backed social commerce unicorn Xiaohongshu says it is reshuffling content

Written by Song Jingli Published on 

Its app was hosting information about illegal substances and unlicensed beauty treatments.

Popular Chinese social commerce app Xiaohongshu (“Little Red Book”), which is known as RED abroad, was removed from Android app stores in China on Monday, fueling speculation on the reasons behind its absence.

RED started out as a platform for members to post product reviews, but has since become an e-commerce powerhouse that is popular with Gen-Z users, including many who are studying overseas. This year, RED was named by CNBC as a “trendspotting app” among its Disruptor 50 list.

The company behind RED, which has been valued at more than USD 3 billion after its Series D round led by Alibaba in June 2018, issued a short statement on Thursday morning via its official Weibo account, confirming that it has been removed from app distribution platforms.

It said, “Xiaohongshu has launched a comprehensive investigation, rectification, in-depth self-examination, and self-correction of the contents on our platform, to actively cooperate with relevant departments to optimize and improve the cyberspace.” The company did not indicate which content requires “correction.”

The wording in RED’s statement suggests that it may have violated China’s cyberspace regulations.

Chinese media outlet Southern Metropolis Daily examined what may have tripped the wire. A recent report exposed user posts on RED that sold illegal substances that contained human placenta extracts, as well as others that were advertisements for unlicensed micro plastic surgery training courses.

On Wednesday, Southern Metropolis Daily found that blog posts by users selling the illegal substances had been removed from the platform, though ads for unlicensed beautician clinics were still online.

The problem is not limited to RED. So-Young, a Chinese company that facilitates bookings for medical aesthetic treatments around the world, was also recently found to be hosting information about facilities that sold similar illegal substances.


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