Kuaishou, one of the biggest short video platforms in China, apologized (in Chinese) today after criticism of the company’s failure to censor content featuring teenage mothers.
The phenomenon of young moms seeking fame online was exposed on April 1 by state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV), which criticized a few video services, including Kuaishou and Huoshan, for providing platforms for teenage girls to show off their adolescent pregnancies and compete with one another to be crowned as the youngest mother on the internet.
According to reporters at CCTV, these video platforms not only allowed such content to be uploaded and displayed, but also purposefully assisted teenage mothers in drawing more attention to their sites by labeling them as “trendy” and “hot.”
In a typical video, a teenage mother, usually aged between 13 and 18 and unmarried, holds a newborn in her arms and talks about having a child before reaching age 20, the minimum age for a woman to legally get married in China.
Wang Qingning 王清柠, a 20-year-old internet celebrity who gave birth at the age of 18 while unmarried, is reportedly one of the young girls who started the trend. A live video posted by Wang normally attracts over 2 million views on Kuaishuo. After witnessing Wang’s success — she now has about 45 million followers on Kuaishou and 3 million followers on Weibo — an alarmingly growing number of girls her age have taken the same path in anticipation of online attention.
The investigation by CCTV found that most of these girls live in rural areas in China and are usually school dropouts.
One Weibo user blamed the videos for influencing their sibling: “Holy hell! My younger sister has been talking about having a baby for a while. When asked why she would want to do that, she told me that I didn’t understand the internet trend,”
In the face of criticism from state media and internet users, Kuaishou released an apology letter on April 3, vowing to crack down on teen mom videos and suspend accounts of young mothers if necessary. “Teenagers are the future of our nation. They are supposed to construct a healthy outlook on their lives and the world during this period of time,” Kuaishou said. “As a pioneer in the industry of short videos, we now realize the immense responsibility on our shoulders.”