Saturday, February 27, 2021

Tripadvisor banned in China as regulators begin to ‘clean up’ the internet

It was not immediately clear why Tripadvisor was caught up in the crackdown on mostly Chinese apps.

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China says it has banned Tripadvisor from mobile app stores in the country as the government embarks on a fresh bid to “clean up” the internet.

In a statement this week, the Cyberspace Administration of China said it has removed 105 apps it considers to be “illegal,” including that of the US travel giant which features reviews of hotels and holiday destinations, CNN Business reports.

Most of the platforms belong to Chinese firms and it was not immediately clear why Tripadvisor was caught up in the crackdown. The Massachusetts-based company said in a statement that it was “not in a position to comment at this time”.

According to Beijing, the removals are intended to save the people from content related to illegal activity including obscenity, pornography, prostitution, violence, fraud and gambling.

Chinese internet users have lived behind the so-called “Great Firewall” for years. American social media networks, such as Facebook and Twitter have long been blocked by Beijing.

The US and China have increasingly clashed over technology. Recently, the Trump administration threatened to ban short-form video app TikTok if it is not sold by its Chinese parent company ByteDance. Those negotiations are still ongoing.

China also takes a hard line on restricting online content even if the platforms are homegrown and popular. Regulators blocked Toutiao, a news aggregation site from iOS and Android app stores because of pornographic and vulgar content on its feeds. At that time the app was ByteDance’s most popular.

The next day, regulators ordered ByteDance to permanently shut down Neihan Duanzi, a social media platform where users were known to share crude content. Beijing urged the company to “learn a lesson and weed out similar video content”.

American hotel group Marriott’s app was blocked when Beijing discovered the company listed Hong Kong and Macao as individual countries instead of regions of China.

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