Chinese news aggregator Jingri Toutiao (今日头条) has recently rolled out a new app called Pipixia (皮皮虾), meant for sharing humorous videos, jokes, and memes. It looks suspiciously like Neihan Duanzi (内涵段子), an app that Toutiao shuttered four months ago after China’s internet regulators complained of “vulgarity.”
Neihan Duanzi was forced to close in April in compliance with orders from SART, i.e., the State Administration of Radio and Television. According to the announcement posted on the administration’s official website, Neihan Duanzi was guilty of hosting “vulgar” content and “triggering strong sentiments of animosity among internet users.” The forced closure of the jokes app served as a warning from China’s media regulators to Jinri Toutiao to “clean up” its other audiovisual programs. For the past few years, the Chinese administration has been ramping up control over the internet, with censorship reaching new heights.
There’s no telling how well Pipixia will fare in this new stringent climate. The app, which became available in stores in June, currently has approximately 700,000 users, most of whom seem to be users from, well, Neihan Duanzi. The two apps currently share much of the same DNA, and users have noted the similarities in the logos and functions of the two apps.