China’s e-commerce platforms ban keyword search for Squid Game-related products, but merchants find workarounds
- An online check yielded no results for a keyword search using ‘Squid Game’ on shopping platforms Taobao, JD.com and Pinduoduo
- Merchants have devised workarounds for consumers to find Squid Game-related goods on these platforms using keywords such as ‘squid mask’ and ‘Halloween costume’
Alibaba, Pinduoduo and JD.com did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.
An online toy merchant surnamed Zeng, who is based in Yiwu city in eastern Zhejiang province, said he found out on Monday that his Squid Game-related products could not be seen on the major e-commerce platforms using the show’s title as a keyword search.
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“We tried other words such as ‘squid mask’, which worked [to search for our products],” said Zeng, who did not want to use his full name because of potential copyright issues. “Based on our experience, only ‘Squid Game’ can’t be used to search on these platforms.”
The search workarounds provided by online merchants show that Squid Game’s wide popularity is likely to continue generating a windfall for them in the foreseeable future.
Although Netflix is unavailable in mainland China, tens of thousands of internet users in the country have found readily available information on where to watch Squid Game illegally, including illicit streaming video sites, peer-to-peer downloads and cloud storage providers.
A Hangzhou-based online merchant, who declined to be named, said it was unknown how long Squid Game’s popularity will last, but sellers must cash in on the current opportunity.
Zeng, the merchant from Yiwu, indicated that there has been no outstanding growth in traffic on his online store since he listed Squid Game-related products. “I think it’s approaching the end [of its popularity,” he said.