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Video sharing site Bilibili removed from app stores amid Beijing’s content ‘clean up’

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 July, 2018, 12:41pm
UPDATED : Friday, 27 July, 2018, 10:52pm

Bilibili, which operates a popular Chinese platform to share video and animation, was removed from a number of smartphone app stores in China after being criticised by state-owned television for inappropriate content.

The Nasdaq-listed company has been “in deep self-review and reflection” after a recent meeting with government authorities, it said in a statement released on Friday. CCTV last week censured the Shanghai-based company for hosting animation that featured incest and other inappropriate content.

In response, Bilibili said it will increase self-checking on published content and more than double the workforce of its content review team.

“We have established a new content review centre in Wuhan, which will officially be in operation by the end of the month,” it noted, adding that a third content review centre will also be built as planned. The company did not indicate if the content review centre expansion was in response to the latest incident.

“Bilibili has retained a discipline committee totalling 36,000 members and it keeps expanding,” the company said, adding that it will “strengthen the discipline committee” mechanism.

China has been tightening its control of the internet, clamping down on content deemed inappropriate. In April, four news apps, including Jinri Toutiao and ifeng News, were removed from app stores for two weeks amid a move by authorities to “clean up” the broadcasting environment. Under the continued effort, the country has shut down more than 13,000 websites in the last three years.

The removal of Bilibili from several popular Android app stores would hurt its ability to attract new users. However, the Bilibili app could still be found on Apple’s China app store at the time of publication. The ban will be effective for one month, preventing new users from downloading the app but not affecting existing users, according to a Bilibii spokesperson on Friday.

The company made its Nasdaq trading debut on March 28, offering 42 million shares at US$11.50. Its shares, down 40 per cent from a high of US$21.28 on June 18, closed at US$12.77 on Thursday.

Founded in 2009, Bilibili had over 77 million active users in the first quarter and they spent an average of 76 minutes per day on the platform. It is also known as a popular video and game streaming community for generation Z, with 82 per cent of viewers born after 1990.

“As a platform company, we should duly perform our duty, and be responsible for online users and the society,” Bilibili said in the statement. “We will also actively work with authorities to guide users in a positive way, produce and circulate content that fit the main themes of the society.”