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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 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. Utah Sues TikTok, Saying It Lures Children Into Addictive Social Media Habits

Utah has become the US latest state to file a lawsuit against TikTok, alleging the company is “baiting” children into addictive and unhealthy social media habits.

TikTok lures children into hours of social media use, misrepresents the app’s safety and deceptively portrays itself as independent of its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, Utah claims in the lawsuit. Arkansas and Indiana have filed similar lawsuits while the US Supreme Court prepares to decide whether state attempts to regulate social media platforms such as Facebook, X and TikTok violate the Constitution.

2. TikTok’s E-Commerce Push Faces Headwinds In Southeast Asia After Indonesia Ban

The e-commerce push of TikTok, the global hit short video app owned by ByteDance, is expected to face more headwinds in Southeast Asia, as Indonesia’s ban on online shopping via social media encourages other countries in the region to adopt similar policies, according to analysts.

Indonesia, the largest economy in Southeast Asia, imposed from late September a ban on e-commerce transactions via social media to protect the country’s micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. TikTok, which is headquartered in Singapore, complied with Jakarta’s directive on October 4, when it ceased sales on e-commerce platform TikTok Shop.

3. A Decentralized ‘Super App’ Backed By Jack Dorsey Sees Rising Interest In China

For the past year, a dedicated group of developers have been working on a decentralised social media protocol, with new features rolling out at a pace that makes it hard to keep track. Updates made this year to the protocol, which was started in late 2020, and to related apps encompass everything from a marketplace with cryptocurrency payments to a TikTok-like short video feed.

The Nostr protocol has kindled such enthusiasm in a core group of users that they have taken to putting on conferences around the world, including an upcoming dual-city event called Nostrasia in Tokyo and Hong Kong from November 1 to 3. While Musk has touted the free-speech bona fides of his new Twitter, which he renamed X, the crypto enthusiasts behind Nostr have built a platform that is censorship resistant and already allows for the instant transfer of bitcoin. It also has the backing of Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey and has attracted users like US intelligence whistle-blower Edward Snowden and Chinese-Malaysian singer Michael Wong.

4. Pinduoduo’s Cross-border E-commerce Platform Temu Charges A Service Fee of 0.5%

Recently, Temu, a cross-border e-commerce platform under Pinduoduo, has introduced a new agreement to sellers called the ‘Customer Service Outsourcing Service Agreement’. The 0.5% service fee rate mentioned in the agreement is interpreted by the public as a signal that the platform will start charging commissions.

According to the new agreement, Party A (Temu) has the right to charge a service fee based on 0.5% of the actual payment amount (excluding tax and including credit) made by users under store orders. If there is a refund for an order, no additional service fee will be charged at the time of refund, but any service fees already collected will not be refunded. At the same time, Party B hereby unconditionally and irrevocably agrees and authorizes the platform to deduct the corresponding service fee directly from the sales proceeds.

5. TikTok’s Experimenting With an Ad-Free Subscription Offering

TikTok has confirmed that it is testing an ad-free subscription tier for users in a single, English-speaking market outside the U.S. The ad-free TikTok experience would reportedly cost users $4.99 per month during this testing phase.

TikTok has largely been ad-driven so far. The platform has a few revenue-sharing mechanisms for creators, and it also has a direct Live Subscription feature that allows users to subscribe directly to a creator. This is the first time the social media/short-form video content app is accepting money directly for an ad-free user experience.

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 October report, click here.


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