Chinese e-commerce app Xiaohongshu unavailable for download on Android: Report

Xiaohongshu, whose monthly active userbase exceeds 85 million globally, might be removed for falsifying users' sharing notes to boost product sales, according to Chinese state media.
Written by Cyrus Lee, Contributor

Popular Chinese social and e-commerce platform Xiaohongshu, known as RED in overseas markets, disappeared from major Chinese Android app stores recently, becoming the latest million-user app to be taken offline as part of the Chinese government's content crackdown.

Xiaohongshu, which is currently valued at over $3 billion and has an active monthly userbase exceeding 85 million, is currently under review and is temporarily not available for download, according to searches on popular Android stores in China. 

Although Xiaohongshu has become widely unavailable for download in Android app stores, iPhone users and those who have downloaded the app in their Android phones have not been affected.

Founded in 2013, Xiaohongshu became extremely popular among Chinese users, especially among younger generations, as users can post reviews of products and share content with each other. Those who are interested in products shared by other users on the platform can also purchase them from Xiaohongshu directly.

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

Apart from Chinese celebrities and influencers, Xiaohongshu has also attracted many international celebrities onto its platform, including US celebrity Kim Kardashian who created her account in October last year.

The reason behind Xiaohongshu being taken offline is unclear, but Global Times, a state-backed newspaper, reported that the company is "communicating with relevant departments to reach a solution" after its removal from Android app stores.

Xiaohongshu's removal "may be linked to problems concerning falsified 'users' notes' to hike product sales," the report said, citing industry insiders, which means that some posts on the platform that look like genuine recommendations might be de facto paid content. 

The popular app, which received funds from both Alibaba and Tencent, is the latest victim of an internet crackdown from Chinese authorities which commenced last year. The country kicked off another round of its online content purge in early July by removing dozens of podcast and audio apps. 

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.

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