‘Tell me loudly, what’s the date today?’: Chinese e-commerce app Xiaohongshu blocked after Tiananmen anniversary post

·2-min read
<p>A protester lights candles to mark the anniversary of the military crackdown on a pro-democracy student movement in Beijing, outside the Victoria Park in Hong Kong, Friday, 4 June, 2021</p> (AP)

A protester lights candles to mark the anniversary of the military crackdown on a pro-democracy student movement in Beijing, outside the Victoria Park in Hong Kong, Friday, 4 June, 2021

(AP)

One of China’s most popular e-commerce sites has had its account on social media platform Weibo suspended after a post that appeared to reference the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

Xiaohongshu, which translates as “Little Red Book”, has hundreds of millions of users and 14 million followers for its official account on Weibo. It is often described as offering users a mixture of the elements of Instagram and Amazon.

The post that sparked the controversy read simply: “Tell me loudly, what’s the date today?” and would not have raised eyebrows had it not come on 4 June, the 32nd anniversary of the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Tiananmen Square.

The post was reportedly quickly deleted, but not before it had drawn significant attention. The company – which is backed by both Chinese internet giants Alibaba and Tencent – is working with the Cyberspace Administration of China to conduct an internal investigation of the incident, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Xiaohongshu’s page on Weibo was also replaced by a message saying it is being investigated for violations of laws and regulations. Its Weibo account frequently poses questions as part of its regular user engagement. Weibo is a popular social media platform similar to Twitter that has over 500 million monthly active users.

On Sunday, a Weibo search for the official account of Xiaohongshu yielded no results, although its own app appeared to be functioning normally.

Some online searches said the account was unavailable “due to complaints of violations of laws and regulations and the relevant provisions of the Weibo Community Convention”.

On Friday, the authorities in Hong Kong had for the second straight year banned an annual candlelight vigil to celebrate the anniversary citing pandemic related restrictions.

Additional reporting by agencies

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