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China Province Summons Five Firms Over Live-Streaming

Consumer protection body in Zhejiang summoned five platforms including Alibaba’s Taobao, Pinduoduo and JD.com over live-streaming irregularities during the Singles’ Day shopping festival


The logo of Chinese online group discounter Pinduoduo is seen next to its mobile phone app in this image from July 2018 by Florence Lo, Reuters.

 

A consumer protection organisation in China‘s Zhejiang Province on Thursday summoned five online platforms including Alibaba Group‘s Taobao, Pinduoduo and JD.com over live-streaming irregularities during the Singles’ Day shopping festival, according to state-owned media.

Short video-sharing and livestreaming platforms Kuaishou and ByteDance’s Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, were also summoned.

The consumer protection organisation said there were irregularities with nearly 30% of live-streamers during Singles’ Day, while almost 40% of the products sold during the livestreams failed to meet national standards.

Live-streaming has become the latest sector of the Chinese economy to come under the regulatory spotlight after Huang Wei (also known as ‘Viya’) – the ‘queen of live-streaming’ – was hit with a massive fine.

The news broke on Tuesday that ‘Viya’ had been forced to pay $210 million for tax evasion, and it appears to have killed her business, as her e-commerce and social media accounts were shut down, shutting the link to her 100 million fans.

The fine doled out to Viya comes after a series of warnings aimed to tighten up practices in the sector and other punishments levelled against some of her smaller peers.

China’s ‘common prosperity’ crackdown has turned a harsh light on the massive livestream e-commerce business. But many other sectors have suffered a similar fate over the past year.

 

Cleaning Up the ‘Net

Meanwhile, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said it would launch a two-month special operation to target deceptive online behaviours, ranging from boosting engagement figures to paying for fake fans and reviews.

China will scrutinise online platforms such as social media networks and video-sharing sites to clamp down on fake accounts and information as part of its drive to “clean up” the internet, the country’s cyber regulator said on Thursday.

While the statement did not name any companies or individuals, it said platforms hosting film and books reviews, short videos, and social networking would be among the focal points of the operation.

 

• Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard

ALSO SEE:

China Livestream Queen Viya Fined $200m For Tax Evasion

From E-Commerce to Education, China’s Season of Regulatory Crackdown

 

 

Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years and has a family in Bangkok.

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