China shut down a humor app. Now there’s a new one.
Pipi Xia emerges months after authorities shut down Bytedance’s Neihan Duanzi
For nearly four months, China’s tight-knit community of Duanyous -- or friends of jokes -- were without a home.
Then this month, they discovered something new. Or rather, a new app with a different name that feels vaguely familiar.
Pipi Xia is now available for download on various Chinese app stores. Just like the now-dead Neihan Duanzi, Pipi Xia gives you an endless feed of light-hearted clips and gifs -- sort of like the harmless jokes and satire you would find on the friendlier parts of Reddit.
Despite the two apps’ similarities, it seems like Pipi Xia is careful to avoid the fate of Neihan Duanzi. In a set of rules pinned to the top of the newsfeed, it stresses that it’s committed to “promote the core values of socialism,” “spread positive energy,” and “promote traditional Chinese culture and virtues.”
The name Pipi Xia, which means mantis shrimp, comes from one of the most viral memes on Chinese internet last year, featuring a man riding a prawn. It’s often paired with the caption “Pipi Xia, let’s go” -- and went on to spawn related memes involving weird-looking seafood like abalone, sea cucumber and geoduck.
Bytedance is one of China’s most valuable startups, specializing in keeping users glued to their smartphones with clickbait content. In addition to Toutiao, which has 120 million daily active users, it also owns viral teen video app Tik Tok.