ByteDance, the world’s most valuable technology start-up, has launched an updated artificial intelligence (AI) tool to better identify violent and sexual content on its popular news aggregation app, Jinri Toutiao, amid Beijing’s efforts to clean up the internet in China. The AI tool called Lingquan, which roughly translates to “dogs with good sense of smell”, has already been adopted by more than three million of Jinri Toutiao’s regular users and content producers, providing them with “health scores” on the stories, text or videos they create for the app’s newsfeed. Sometimes, these creators are not aware that they have produced vulgar content, according to Wang Changhu, a director at ByteDance’s AI Lab, at a press conference in Beijing on Tuesday. His comments from the conference were confirmed by a company spokeswoman on Wednesday. Known officially as Lingquan 3.0, the AI tool is also expected to help raise public awareness against content deemed as inappropriate by Chinese regulators. No smoking, no tattoos, no bikinis: inside China’s war to ‘clean up’ the internet Lingquan would also be used as a way to gather public opinion and suggestions about how to combat vulgar content, according to Wang. ByteDance’s use of AI to help sanitise content on its news app reflects the pressure that China’s cyberspace administration has put on major operators of popular social media platforms in the country. Under Chinese president Xi Jinping, the ruling Communist Party has tightened its grip on the nation’s internet sector, which has the world’s largest online population with 829 million at the end of December, to guard against the proliferation of pornography, gambling, fake news and political dissent. That has led more Chinese social media platform operators to employ various AI tools, which handle the grunt work of labelling, rating and sorting content online. ByteDance, which was valued at US$75 billion after its latest funding round, has run afoul of regulators for vulgar content found on Jinri Toutiao in China and on hit short-form video-sharing app TikTok, known as Douyin on the mainland, in overseas markets like India and Indonesia . Its Lingquan tool has achieved a correction rate of 85 per cent, up from 73 per cent in the previous version, according to a post published by Jinri Toutiao. Apart from rating scores, the tool also offers suggestions if certain content “has some problems” or needed to be checked by a person. At the press conference, Wang said the AI tool still required human check in identifying sexual content, for example, because an exposed part of the body is one of its general markers.