Xiaohongshu Suspected of Compromising Minors’ Privacy

On Sunday, Chinese state-run CCTV News reported that domestic social media platform Xiaohongshu is suspected of leaking the private information of minors, and of poor content auditing. In response, Xiaohongshu on Sunday apologized for the reported audit omission and announced plans to launch a new round of control measures specifically for minors in the near future.

According to CCTV reports, in September this year, a parent of an elementary school student in Chengdu searched for parent-child playground on the Xiaohongshu app and found that the app pushed short videos containing massive amounts of content involving minors’ lives from time to time. Initially, Mr. Jiang thought that the platform recommended some experiences for teenage users, but more and more videos that obviously leak minors’ bodily privacy were pushed, deeply worrying him.

When a CCTV reporter tried the Xiaohongshu app, he found that in several short videos, the video shooters were minors themselves who took cell phone selfies with the camera aimed directly at their private body parts. In the short videos featuring minors, a great number of users also left messages and pop-ups, some with strong sexual innuendo.

On the app, among the numerous short videos featuring minors, there are occasionally short videos introducing online games with sexually explicit names and pictures. A video account named “game commentary” posted a short video introducing the game, with a female character’s naked body as the cover, and the video was marked with the caption, “dancing without clothes.”

Previously, China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued “Opinions on Strengthening the Protection of Minors in the Online Cultural Market,” explicitly prohibiting the profit-making by “online famed children,” strictly regulating and controlling the participation of minors in online performances, and seriously dealing with accounts that use child models in indecent poses to attract traffic and make money by selling goods.

The social media platform Xiaohongshu said that after receiving reports from users, they had to remove illegal content due to the high volume of video uploads, and added that the push of inappropriate teen videos was probably the result of a glitch in their censorship algorithm. The Xiaohongshu staff also said no real name authentication is required for platform registration, so anyone with a cell phone number, QQ account or WeChat account can register.

Xiaohongshu also responded that the platform has already dealt with some of the content mentioned in the report in its previous special check for minors. On the issue of real-name certification, the platform strictly follows the relevant regulations and requires real-name authentication for users. Newly registered users and users who publish notes and comments are required to tie their personal cell phone numbers, and professional certification and users who sell goods are required to upload their personal ID cards.

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A head official of Xiaohongshu said that the platform would soon launch a new round of special measures for underage governance, enhance the recognition of underage users and related content, and carry out treatments focusing on underage short video content, comment section style and other issues. Xiaohongshu also sincerely requests its platform’s users, through its reporting channels, to report the content and accounts that affect the physical and mental health of minors, and the platform will deal with them promptly.