China’s Quora Zhihu tightens content control, deletes comments

China’s Quora Zhihu tightens content control, deletes comments

Zhihu, China’s answer to Quora, announced Monday that the platform has upgraded its community management rules, comment system, and security system, local media is reporting (in Chinese).

Apple began last week storing users’ data on servers in China, and Apple handed over encryption keys.

The platform will maintain the rights to suspend comment functions and open pre-publication review for comments. At the same time, a machine plus human approach was adopted as well to strengthen content regulation, according to a statement released by the firm.

This announcement can be translated as quick response from the company under pressure from government. On March 2, Beijing cyberspace authorities ordered Zhihu delisted from all app stores due to their inefficiency to purge “illicit information” on the platform. The suspension spans seven days from March 2 to March 9. The app is unavailable during the period, but people who have already installed the app will not be affected.

Launched in December 2010, Zhihu is the go-to place for Chinese internet users who want to seek expert insights into various areas. The firm has become China’s first unicorn in knowledge sharing sector upon the completion of $100 million Series D in Jan. 2017.

Chinese internet giants are getting more restrictive and knowledge sharing service, which may easily involve sensitive topics like politics and human rights, is one of the most closely watched sectors by local authorities.

Fenda, the voice message Q&A app that went viral in June 2016, has gone through something similar. The service was suspended for 47 days in August 2016. The firm claimed the prolonged time out was meant for scheming larger plans. But the more popular theory is that the service is restructuring under the pressure of regulators, because would be weird for a new hit app to suspend over a month only for updating, losing the best timing for obtaining users.

Governmental influence expands well beyond knowledge sharing. Some of China’s most popular apps like Weibo and Toutiao all faced backlash once they touched a nerve with the authorities.
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