News aggregators must put content 'firewalls' in place

BY  | FROM china daily | 2018-04-09 09:40

   Toutiao, a popular news app, provides valuable and personalized information for users in China. Photos provided to China Daily

  ON THURSDAY, the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television said via its official WeChat account that it had talked with the heads of the Beijing-based Toutiao and Kuaishou because the two news apps had published content contrary to social morality. Beijing News comments:

  Having talked with the two news aggregators, SARFT required them to strengthen their review process and make sure their employees reviewed every piece of news before it was released via their platforms.

  That move is considered a correction to a mode popular among many news aggregators, namely allowing artificial intelligence to do the selecting. Toutiao, for instance, has been famous for automatically picking news from popular news websites and pushing what they consider the most "interesting" to the users of their smartphone application.

  According to reports, "popularity" is the primary principle for the selections and there are hardly any reviews carried out to check whether the content is vulgar or improper.

  That mode is quite popular among many websites and applications. As a result, several platforms, such as Toutiao and Kuaishou pushed lots of vulgar content that spread quickly.

  Worse, that encouraged other media platforms to produce even vulgar stories to gain popularity. When readers are fed up with such stories, they might be cheated into believing this is true journalism.

  By requiring the websites to review their content before publishing it, SARFT is trying to establish a firewall inside them to prevent the spreading of vulgar and other improper content.

  The move is also good for the two websites because improper content will eventually hurt their image among readers, which in turn will curb their development in the long run.

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