Beijing Targets ‘Chaotic’ Online Fan Clubs by Removing Apps from Stores

Several popular Chinese apps for fans have been removed from online stores, while other apps that weren’t removed have become off limits for minors. Domestic authorities contend that the move is designed to put an end to the ‘chaos’ of online fan clubs, the Securities Times reported on Thursday.

On June 15 of this year, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) decided to launch a two-month nationwide campaign to discipline online fan clubs, cracking down on activities that induce minors to contribute money to their idols or engage in trolling and doxxing.

The main function of those apps is to enable fans to support their favorite idols. At present, there are many kinds of such apps available on the market. Besides apps launched by third-party companies, some celebrities’ management agencies have launched official apps for fans, while various long-video platforms also maintain specific fan communities.

Unofficial third-party apps are the major targets in the recent actions by authorities. Compared with official apps, third-party companies have more complete functions, involving more celebrities and more users. The unregulated operations of these third-party apps has been the main culprit for the so-called ‘chaos’ in online fan culture.

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According to Qimai data, since the beginning of August, many fan apps have been removed from online stores. Among them, Sfansclub, Morefans Pro, Taoba and other apps with a large number of users were removed from the Apple app stores at 2:00 pm on August 10, and have not been recovered yet.

On top of that, some official QR codes provided by those apps cannot be accessed. If you scan the QR code with a browser, it will show a message that “the app is not available or is temporarily removed due to policy requirements, and the downloading service is not supported.”

In addition, most of these apps’ functions include fund-raising, support for idols, and manipulation of comments. These functions can easily induce unreasonable consumption, invasion of privacy, unwarranted abuse and attacks, all of which represent the targets of this campaign.

Before that, in order to curb irrational support behavior, Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, has taken the lead in removing its “Star Popularity List,” while Baidu, 360 Search and other platforms have also removed their popularity lists and other similar functions.