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China Digital Digest Weekly: Exploring the Chinese Digital Landscape

Hi folks, we are back with our weekly edition of China’s Digital Digest, wherein we would bring you weekly updates on China’s digital space. The report takes a quick glance at China’s complex and rapidly evolving social media landscape by providing updates on the latest happenings across the social media industry. Here are the major highlights of the report.

1. Douyin Asks Creators To Clearly Label AI-Generated Content

ByteDance-owned short video app Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, has rolled out a new set of rules that require all creators on the platform to label content that was generated by artificial intelligence (AI), as Beijing initiates steps to regulate ChatGPT-like tools.

By clearly marking which content is AI-generated, Douyin creators will “help other users differentiate between what’s virtual and what’s real”, according to the app’s new platform rules. In line with that move, Douyin has released a technical standard for creators to label such content. Douyin said its latest rules are based on China’s new regulation, the Administrative Provisions on Deep Synthesis for Internet Information Service, which came into effect on January 10.

2. LinkedIn Shuts Down China App That Trailed Rivals Amid Global Job Cuts

LinkedIn, the Microsoft-owned platform for job seekers and recruiters, is shuttering the app it launched in China less than two years ago, ending its remaining social media presence in the country as it cuts hundreds of jobs worldwide.

The company is cutting 716 jobs across its global operations amid “fierce competition” and “slower revenue growth”, CEO Ryan Roslansky wrote in a letter. Revenue was up 8 percent year on year in the quarter ended March, slower than the 10 percent and 17 percent growth in the two previous quarters, according to Microsoft financial disclosures.

3. China Starts Rare On-Site Inspection of Tencent-Backed, US-Listed Douyu

China’s internet watchdog has launched a rare on-site inspection of video game live-streaming platform operator Douyu International Holdings, which is backed by the world’s largest video gaming company by revenue, Tencent Holdings.

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) instructed its local arm in central Hubei province to send a working group to Douyu, based in the provincial capital of Wuhan, to address “serious” problems related to the platform, including pornography, the regulator said in a brief statement published on WeChat. The working group will be stationed at Douyu for a month to supervise the platform’s “rectification” process, the CAC said, without elaborating further.

4. TikTok Owner ByteDance Divests Bricks-And-Mortar Real Estate Business

ByteDance, the tech unicorn behind global hit short video app TikTok and its Chinese sibling Douyin, has disposed of its bricks-and-mortar real estate agency, taking a step back from China’s property industry amid continued weakness in the country’s housing market.

Fujian Haofang Youxing Information Technology Co – a ByteDance subsidiary that operates roughly 200 offline brokerages in Fuzhou, the capital of southeastern Fujian province – has been sold for an undisclosed amount to Fuqing Wumai Corporate Management Co, a unit of major Chinese real estate services provider Maitian, according to a change of the company’s registry in late April tracked by business data provider Qichacha. At the same time, the legal representative of Fujian Haofang, Wang Fengkun, who is also the tech director of ByteDance’s advertising platform, was replaced by Liu Chenglin, a Maitian manager in Fuzhou.

5. China Announces First Known ChatGPT Detention Over Fake Train Crash News

Chinese police have detained a man who allegedly used ChatGPT to generate fake news and disseminate it online in what may be the country’s first detention related to the use of the bot.

Police in northwestern China’s Gansu province said in a statement that a suspect surnamed Hong had been detained for “using artificial intelligence technology to concoct false and untrue information”. The case first caught the attention of the cyber division of a county police bureau when they spotted a fake news article that claimed nine people had been killed in a local train accident on April 25.

The cybersecurity officers in Kongtong county found the article simultaneously posted by more than 20 accounts on Baijiahao, a blog-style platform run by Chinese search engine giant Baidu. The stories had received more than 15,000 clicks by the time it came to authorities’ attention.

6. Chinese Fast Fashion Giant Shein Denies Low Prices Due to Forced Labour

Chinese cut-price fast-fashion giant Shein defended its business model in an interview with AFP, saying demand-based production accounted for its low prices and not forced or cheap labour.

Founded in China in 2008, Shein has swiftly claimed a top place in the global fast-fashion marketplace, offering young social-media-savvy customers low-priced collections that turn over at a steady clip. The Singapore-based firm’s strategy chief Peter Pernot-Day told AFP that Shein is “an on-demand manufacturer … the global pioneer of this technology” during a visit to Paris to attend the opening of a Shein pop-up store.

7. Pinduoduo and Temu’s Owner Opens Dublin Office Amid Scrutiny of Chinese Apps

PDD Holdings, the Chinese owner of the budget e-commerce platform Pinduoduo, has moved some of its operations from China to Ireland, according to the company’s latest financial filings, as it continues to expand its Western-facing online shopping platform Temu.

In a March 22 filing with the US Securities Exchange Commission, the company listed the address for its “principal executive offices” as an office building in Dublin. Reports in February still listed the principal offices as in Shanghai.

8. ByteDance’s Douyin Releases 11 Regulations About AIGC on Its Platform

Douyin, a popular social media platform in China, has released 11 regulations and industry initiatives regarding AI-generated content on its platform.

In accordance with the regulations, hosts, users, merchants, advertisers and other participants in the platform ecosystem should label significantly the AI-generated content on Douyin application when generating it with generative artificial intelligence technology. This will help other users distinguish between virtual and reality, especially in confusing scenarios.

Also, publishers are responsible for the corresponding consequences of AI-generated content, regardless of how the content is generated. Moreover, virtual individuals need to be registered on the platform, and users of virtual individual technology need to be authenticated with their real names.

Wrapping Up

The vast and diverse nature of the Chinese Social Media space makes it incredibly challenging to keep a tab on the rapid developments taking place. However, China’s Digital Digest brings you all the latest updates from there to keep you abreast of all the evolving trends.

To delve deeper into the findings of the February report, click here.

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