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China’s popular app Douyin asked to stop commercial ops over ad making fun of war hero

China's internet watchdog has asked Douyin to hold rectification programme and promote socialist values and patriotism amongst employees as penance

Written by Zeeshan Shaikh | Beijing |
Updated: July 3, 2018 5:23:14 am
China's popular app suspended after row erupts over 'disrespectful' advertisement on war hero Douyin had 300 million users and was run by Beijing ByteDance Technology (Source: Wikipedia)

Douyin, China’s most popular video-sharing app with a user base of 300 million, has suspended its commercial operations after the administration asked them to launch a rectification campaign and hold classes promoting socialist values for its employees. The crackdown on the app came after it put out an advertisement which is said to have disrespected a Chinese soldier Qiu Shaoyun who was martyred during the Korean War.

The advertisement had first appeared on June 5 and had been shared on other platforms. The Chinese cyber watchdog the Cyberspace Administration of China had after a public furore asked the companies involved the next day to delete the content. The companies involved had subsequently apologised for the incident with Beijing ByteDance Technology which owns Douyin issuing a statement accepting that its marketing team had erred.

On Saturday however on the instructions of the Cyberspace Administration of China, the Cyberspace Administration of Beijing and the city’s Administration of Industry and Commerce held talks with the five comanies hich had aired these ads. A press release issued subsequently after the meeting said that all the five companies had been asked to launch a rectification campaign and clean any content that insults heroes and martyrs.

Read | HBO website down in China after John Oliver skewers Xi Jinping for censorship

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“The five companies have been ordered to have a thorough self-examination on related content; conduct internal training on policies and regulations, socialist core values and revolutionary history; and improve their internal content review mechanism to prevent such violations. Names and images of heroes and martyrs such as Qiu must not be used in commercial advertisements,” the release said.

It also said that the firms including Beijing Adnice Advertising Co, Beijing App Factory Corp and Baosheng Advertising Corp were ordered to arrange “patriotic lessons” for employees involved in approving advertising content and cybersecurity.

“The firms all said they will make changes according to the authorities’ requirements and voluntarily suspend all commercials,” the release said.

There is however no clarity on how long will these companies including Douyin suspend their commerical opearions. While the website will be up and running the company will not be able to air advertisements which is their main revenue source. The Chinese government meanwhile is still working on further punishments for these companies.

The platform Douyin was was launched in 2016 by Bytedance, a Beijing-based software company. It allows users to upload and browse short clips. It has a user base of 300 million monthly.

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