The tech space in China has been plagued by crackdown actions that are seemingly after bringing these big tech companies to their knees. Some of the companies that have been affected by these regulatory actions include Alibaba and its subsidiary businesses, Tencent, Didi, etc.
According to sources who know about the matter, Chinese news aggregator Toutiao; an app owned by TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, has been blocking new user and content creator registration since September following the demand of regulators.
The inability to register on the platform had not been previously reported since it started in September but recent complaints by some content creators that they couldn’t register for new accounts on Toutiao across social media brought it to light.
Unlike Didi whose app was removed from all Chinese app stores, Toutiao’s app can still be downloaded and the reason for the blockage could not be immediately determined. According to the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) – the regulatory body that issued the ban against Didi, the ride-hailing giant was found guilty of dire violations in how the personal information of users was collected and used. The regulatory body, in a statement, required Didi to rectify these problems and also said that Didi was not to accept new customers until it completes its probe. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which oversee Toutiao’s operations, did not reply to requests for comment.
When trying to create an account on Toutiao, new users and content creators see a displayed message that reads: “System is currently under maintenance. Registration is temporarily unavailable.”
After Douyin (the Chinese version of TikTok), Toutiao is ByteDance’s second-largest ad revenue source in China. Known in full as Jinri Toutiao which translates to “today’s headline” in English, the platform utilizes an AI-based recommendation system to offer users personalized news feeds.
This is not the first time that Toutiao (and ByteDance) are facing penalties from regulators. Toutiao was once removed from app stores for about three weeks for citing “vulgar content”.
The crackdown against big tech companies by Chinese regulators doesn’t seem like it’ll come to an end soon as more companies are expected to face actions from regulators soon. ByteDance did not immediately reply to a request for a response.