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. US Judge Halts Montana’s TikTok Ban From Taking Effect On January 1
A US judge has blocked Montana’s first-of-its-kind state ban on the use of short-video sharing app TikTok from taking effect on January 1, saying it violated the free speech rights of users.
US district judge Donald Molloy issued a preliminary injunction to block the ban on the Chinese-owned app, saying the state ban “oversteps state power and infringes on the constitutional rights of users”. TikTok had sued Montana in May, seeking to block the US state ban on several grounds, arguing that it violates the First Amendment free speech rights of the company and users. TikTok users in Montana also filed suit to block the ban.
2. TikTok Faces Singapore Civil Lawsuit From K Shanmugam Over ‘False, Baseless’ Claims of Extramarital Affair
Social media giant TikTok is facing a civil lawsuit from Singapore’s Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam after it failed to assist him in identifying three users who had each allegedly uploaded a video spreading false allegations about him.
Shanmugam’s lawyers had filed three affidavits, which detailed the allegations that he has repeatedly dismissed as “false and baseless”. The affidavits were filed in support of Shanmugam’s application for court orders requiring TikTok to produce documents and information that would help to identify the users involved. The affidavits stated that TikTok had refused to provide Shanmugam with the basic personal information of the three users unless a court order was obtained.
3. Temu Secures US Injunctions Amid Budget Shopping Platform’s Legal Fights
A United States court has granted preliminary injunctions to Temu, owned by Shanghai-based PDD Holdings, against phishing sites in the latest development in its legal action against websites that impersonate the fast-growing online marketplace.
Temu, the overseas shopping platform of the budget Chinese e-tailer, initiated a lawsuit in late October against 20 websites with domains that imitate Temu, accusing them of “trademark infringement, unfair competition and false designation of origin” and promoting phishing and online fraud schemes, according to a complaint filed with the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Temu later extended its actions against more sites in the US and Europe, with a total of over 50 websites targeted by its lawsuits.
The US District Court for Arizona issued preliminary injunctions against some of the defendants between November 20 and 22, according to a statement by Temu.
4. Alibaba Pushes New AI Tool to Help Wholesale Merchants Manage Overseas Clients
Alibaba.com, the international business-to-business wholesale marketplace of Alibaba Group Holding has rolled out a new artificial intelligence (AI) tool to help the platform’s merchants automate their client-facing operations, including writing emails, to entice more customers overseas.
An AI-upgraded version of OKKI, the customer relationship management software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering under Alibaba Cloud has been made available to foreign trade merchants since 1st December, according to Alibaba.com. It said the response rate of these merchants’ overseas clients improved by 32 percent when their business correspondence was polished by OKKI. The new AI tool for merchants on its international wholesale platform underscores Hangzhou-based Alibaba’s sharpened focus on AI and enterprise users, which new group chief executive Eddie Wu Yongming outlined in an internal letter sent to employees in September.
5. Philippines Launches TikTok ‘Threat Assessment’ As It Considers Partial Ban
The government of the Philippines will soon decide whether to forbid security employees from using the TikTok video-sharing app amid concerns over cyberespionage, according to a National Security Council official.
The council’s Assistant Director Jonathan Malaya told reporters that the proposal to ban TikTok is merely for the security sector because many countries in the world have already banned TikTok in government devices. Malaya had earlier said that the threat of data collection or cyber espionage was the reason behind the move to create a task force to consider banning the popular social media platform on government security devices.
6. Discount E-Commerce Giant PDD Nearly Doubles Quarterly Revenue, Eyeing Rivals
PDD Holdings, known for offering bargain prices on its Pinduoduo app in China and Temu in overseas markets, saw its revenue almost double in the third quarter of 2023 from a year ago, narrowing the gap between it and arch-rivals such as Alibaba Group Holding.
The online retailer, conceived in 2015 by founder Colin Huang Zheng as a provider of agricultural products and cheap consumer goods, reported a 94 percent surge in third-quarter revenue to 68.8 billion yuan (US$9.6 billion), beating estimates, while its operating profit jumped 60 percent to 16.7 billion yuan. Revenue from “transaction services”, or the charges it collects from merchants for transactions on the platform, surged 315 percent during the quarter.
7. China-Founded E-Commerce Fashion Start-Up Shein Files For US IPO
China-founded online fashion retailer Shein has confidentially filed to go public in the United States.
The fast-fashion giant has been working with at least three investment banks about a potential initial public offering (IPO) and was in talks with the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq. Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley have been hired as lead underwriters on the offering, which could happen in 2024. The company was valued at more than US$60 billion in May and is expected to become the most valuable China-founded company to go public in the US since ride-hailing giant Didi Global’s debut in 2021 at a US$68-billion valuation.
8. ByteDance Launches Large-Scale Model Product “ChitChop”
ByteDance has recently launched a large-scale product called “ChitChop,” which is developed and operated by POLIGON. ByteDance’s social product Helo is also operated by the same company. ChitChop is an AI integration platform that provides users with up to 200+ intelligent robot services. Its homepage displays six different usage scenarios including creation, AI drawing, recreation, AI study, work, and life. Each scenario contains more than 10 AI tools, with over 200 intelligent robots in total.
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 November report, click here.