China’s government has been tightening its grip on cyberspace over the past year, taking whacks at various apps and platforms in efforts to wipe “vulgar” content from the Chinese digital world. Now it has a new player in its sights: Tantan, a Chinese swipe-to-match dating app often compared to Tinder.
Last week Tantan was taken off multiple app stores in China, a move made “on direction of government authorities”, according to a statement by Tantan’s Nasdaq-listed parent company Momo. The app has yet to be restored on these platforms, but is still available in China on Apple’s App Store.
Tantan wants to solve China’s singles problem
Although the specific reason for the suspension hasn’t been announced, it’s not likely the government has added hookup culture to its list of negative cyber-facilitated activities to deal with — other dating apps, like Momo and Blued for example, are still available for download. What regulators may be worried about though are other questionable activities taking place after users connect through the country’s most popular dating app.
Momo, another social/hook-up app that acquired Tantan last year, said in a statement that it was “proactively communicating with the relevant government authorities and intends to fully cooperate with such authorities in order to restore the availability of Tantan…as soon as possible.” It also added that it is conducting an “internal review” of Tantan.
This progression of suspension, internal review, and restoration isn’t unfamiliar, of course. Last year four news apps, including popular news aggregator Toutiao, were removed from app stores for several weeks to clean up fake news — the same thing happened just last month with Nasdaq-listed Sina Corp’s flagship news app.
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The government’s efforts to sweep negative content out of cyberspace extend into video and messaging too, often to squash sex-related content and activities. Bilibili and nineteen other video apps were suspended for a period last year on charges of content featuring incest, and just last month nine minor messaging apps were shut down for facilitating prostitution.
Luckily for Tantan, which is likely also receiving scrutiny for its role in facilitating illegal sex activity, most expect it to emerge again to see the light of day. This wasn’t the case for many of the over 13,000 Chinese websites that have been shut down in the past three years during this cyber crackdown.
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