China state media say 4 popular news apps suspended

BEIJING — Four popular Chinese news apps have been temporarily removed from the Android store in China following an order from regulators to tighten control over the spread of information, state media reported Monday.

Toutiao, Phoenix News, NetEase News and Tiantian Kuaibao suspended their downloading services before 3 p.m. on Monday, the Beijing Daily newspaper said on its microblog.

It said Toutiao will be suspended for three weeks and will resume service on April 30, while Phoenix will be taken down for two weeks, NetEase for one week and Tiantian for three days. Users can still download the apps from Apple's App Store.

Android phones are far more common in China and the government has great sway over domestic communications and Internet platforms.

Further details on the regulatory measure were not immediately available and calls to the government's oversight body, the Cyberspace Administration of China, rang unanswered on Monday.

China maintains tight control over news sources and heavily censors the internet for content related to gambling, pornography, dissident politics, criticism of the government and other perceived social ills.

On April 4, executives of Toutiao and live streaming app Kuaishou were told by the State Administration of Radio and Television to remove "violent, erotic content" on the websites, cease adding new upload accounts and investigate the current ones.

According to SART, Toutiao and Kuaishou have long been ignoring the law by expanding their video program services without proper licenses, and were streaming "programs that violated social morality."

Toutiao announced on April 6 that it had deleted more than 10,000 short videos and 4,800 problematic accounts and added 1,700 sensitive words for video censoring.

On April 6, Kuaishou also published hiring information on several websites to recruit 3,000 people for content review and editing. Priority was to be given to applicants with reliable political backgrounds, especially members of the ruling Communist Party or its youth league.

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