China cracks down on podcasts and audio apps

The recent cleanup on audio information follows China's serial crackdown on online text information, video, and games that commenced last year.

China has kicked off another round of its online content purge by removing dozens of podcast and audio apps.

The move to remove the audio-related content is backed by China's policy to regulate and remove any online video and text information that is considered "harmful" to society. 

As many as 26 podcast and audio apps have been removed or closed by the relevant authorities, the Cyberspace Administration of China announced on its WeChat account last week.

Affected apps include popular audio apps Lizhi FM and Ximalaya FM, in addition to popular music app NetEase Music. Searches on Apple's App Store and Android app markets in China showed that these apps are no longer unavailable.

These affected podcast and audio apps have disseminated "historical nihilism" and "obscene and pornographic information" on their platforms, the regulator said in the statement, and has severely damaged the internet ecology and badly impacted on the healthy growth of young people.

See also: China proposes video game crackdown to protect children's eyesight

Despite the crackdown on podcasts and audio apps, the Cyberspace Administration of China still encourages mainstream media and netizens to produce audio that is "excellent content that people are in favour of" to create a network audio space with positive energy, it said.

Since last year, China's cyber watchdog has shut down thousands of mobile apps for distributing pornographic material and stealing private information to "protect the youth".

In April 2018, four Chinese news apps, whose combined active users exceeded 400 million, were suspended from being downloaded on a number of Android app stores in China following a crackdown by the country's media watchdog. It followed the shut down of 128,000 websites in China that contained obscene and other "harmful" information in 2017, according to the official Xinhua news agency, after the country's first ever cybersecurity law officially came into effect on 1 June 2017.

In November last year, popular messaging app WeChat, whose active daily user base exceeded 1 billion all over the world, pledged to clean up undesirable content on its platform to maintain a "healthy" reading environment as required by the government.

Meanwhile, research firm Newzoo expects the US to overtake China as the world's biggest gaming market this year as China's nine-month ban on approving new games in 2018 continues to send chills throughout the entire market. 

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