ByteDance has reportedly been blocking new users and content creator registrations on its news aggregator in China Jinri Toutiao since September as ordered by the authority, according to Reuters' sources. The reason for the blocking could not be immediately determined as Jinri Toutiao's app can still be downloaded. While existing users can still use it, new users face an issue with the system saying: "System is currently under maintenance. Registration is temporarily unavailable."
Some content creators have said on social media that they couldn't register for new accounts on Jinri Toutiao. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology did not comment on the matter. Both of them oversee the platform's operations. Meanwhile, ByteDance declined to comment too.
Reuters also reported that Jinri Toutiao is ByteDance's second-largest ad revenue source in China after Douyin, accounting for about 20% of sales in the country last year, or about (US$5.57 billion). Meanwhile, in 2018, Chinese regulators ordered app stores to remove Toutiao for three weeks, citing "vulgar content".
China has been taking a close look at the processes of tech companies recently. Last week it was reported that ByteDance, was reportedly meeting with Chinese government officials over data security requirements before going public earlier this year, according to a report from Bloomberg. It is reported that ByteDance will be proceeding with its preparations for an initial public offering of its domestic assets cautiously due to recent regulatory changes in China, even before the IPO of Didi Chuxing in the US which resulted in the removal from app stores due to serious violation on Didi Global's collection and usage of personal information.
The report cited the Wall Street Journal that in meetings in March with regulators, ByteDance already had put its intentions to go public on hold indefinitely, but the company currently has not shelved its IPO plans and has not decided on specific timing. Bloomberg said according to a source, ByteDance meets regularly with the country's regulators about several issues such as data security, while the discussions in March were part of that ongoing process too.
Earlier this month, Chinese authorities also asked ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing to remove from app stores due to serious violations on Didi Global's collection and usage of personal information. The CAC announced a ban just two days after the regulator said it was starting a cybersecurity review of the company. However, currents users downloaded that app can still continue to order rides and other services.
The authority said that it ordered Didi Chuxing to rectify its problems following legal requirements and national standards, and take steps to protect the personal information of its users. On the same day, Didi Chuxing said it had halted new user registrations as of 3 July and was now working to rectify its app in accordance with regulatory requirements. The CAC did not specify what it would look into, but the time of announcement came after Didi Chuxing's IPO and on 30 June and the Communist Party’s 100th anniversary celebrations in Beijing. According to Bloomberg, the investigation may be about scrutiny of Didi Chuxing over issues ranging from antitrust to data security.
Meanwhile earlier this year, ByteDance had planned earlier this year to list some of its businesses, including TikTok's Chinese version Douyin in Hong Kong. But in April, ByteDance said it had no imminent plans to list.
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