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Politics

China's biggest news app expands censor army to 10,000

Toutiao toes party line after state freezes new downloads over inappropriate content

Jinri Toutiao, a Chinese news aggregator app reaching over 200 million users, agreed to work more closely with state media outlets.   © Reuters

BEIJING -- The operator of China's most popular news aggregator app will increase its legion of censors to 10,000 people after the government banned new downloads of the service over what it called inappropriate content.

Zhang Yiming, CEO of Jinri Toutiao, issued an apology Wednesday, saying the Beijing startup focused too much on scale at the expense of social responsibility and its duty to "correctly" guide public opinion. State broadcast authorities ordered a temporary block on downloads of four news apps Monday due to videos and other content that "disturbs social morality."

Zhang promised to expand the team of content reviewers responsible for monitoring new articles and user postings to 10,000 from 6,000.

Toutiao will move to align business practices with the activities of the Communist Party, Zhang said, and abide by a set of principles that upholds President Xi Jinping as the core of the party. The company will create a committee this month tasked with improving the startup's way of thinking, and form a group of specialized content supervisors consisting of delegates to the National People's Congress, according to Zhang's social media post.

The company also will cooperate more closely with state media outlets and host more party-line news pieces. The app, which boasts over 200 million users, has attracted many young people for being an alternative to official party media.

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