Alibaba Group Holding, China’s largest e-commerce services provider, said there were fewer suspected fake products found on its online shopping platforms last year, as the company deployed more sophisticated technology to track and intercept counterfeit merchandise. New York-listed Alibaba, which operates Taobao Marketplace and Tmall, said there was a 67 per cent year-on-year decline in potentially problematic listings on its platforms in 2018, following the deployment of “its most sophisticated and comprehensive proactive detection technology to date”, according to the firm’s latest Intellectual Property Rights Protection Annual Report released on Friday. It said 96 per cent of Alibaba’s proactive removals last year occurred before a single sale took place. The number of suspected counterfeit listings removed last year in response to consumer reports also dropped 70 per cent from the previous year, even as Alibaba saw its monthly mobile active users increase by 119 million during the year. The firm recorded 699 million monthly active users on its retail platforms at the end of December. Alibaba’s online mall chief wants to double sales in three years The anti-counterfeiting technologies launched by Alibaba last year include the analysis of emotions and semantics from user data, such as comments and feedback. The company seeks to determine the “emotion” behind feedback to identify negative sentiments, which may serve as leads to further investigation, the report said. Alibaba also initiated use of a counterfeit-identification system that analyses not only data and information related to goods and product listings, but also data related to merchants. Algorithms behind this “Full View of Merchants” system search for unusual transactions and certain anomalous traffic data, which trigger additional investigation. In January last year, for example, Alibaba assisted police in the eastern coastal province of Jiangsu to dismantle a counterfeiting operation in Fujian, a province in China’s southeast coast. The perpetrators had opened more than 50 online stores using the identities of friends and family, which was a string of suspect relationships found by Alibaba’s system, the report said. The company’s live broadcasting monitoring system uses advanced technologies, such as voice and semantic recognition algorithms as well as image and character recognition algorithms, to track product information in real time as merchants promote their goods to consumers. Here’s how China’s new e-commerce law will affect consumers, platform operators The latest efforts by Alibaba, which owns the South China Morning Post , have come as the Chinese government increased pressure on online retail companies to fight the sale of copycat and counterfeit merchandise on their platforms. China’s comprehensive new e-commerce law, which was passed in August last year and took effect on January 1 this year, makes all e-commerce platform operators jointly liable with the merchants for selling any counterfeit or copycat merchandise on their website. Previously, individual merchants were solely liable when caught selling fake or knock-off goods. Chinese online retail firms have long been grappling with the issue of counterfeit products. Both Alibaba’s Taobao Marketplace and Chinese e-commerce upstart Pinduoduo were named in the US Trade Representative’s latest annual Notorious Markets list published last month. Alibaba last year referred 1,634 intellectual property rights-related leads to law enforcement authorities across China, which led to the arrest of 1,953 criminal suspects and closure of 1,542 facilities. These cases involved goods worth an estimated 7.9 billion yuan (US$1.1 billion).