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Top China news app self-criticises after government crackdown

AFP  |  Shanghai 

One of China's most popular apps issued an abject apology today and pledged to increase its internal censorship staff to 10,000 after it and three other apps were temporarily banned by the government in a widening content crackdown.

Chinese earlier this week said the four apps, led by and content aggregator Jinri Toutiao, had been ordered removed from app stores for up to three weeks.

They are the latest victims in a tightening wave of censorship by the ruling aimed at expunging anything deemed in conflict with "core socialist values".

Zhang Yiming, the founder and of Toutiao, said in an apology issued Wednesday on one of its feeds that he was "consumed by guilt and remorse, and have not slept all night" over the ban.

is owned by Beijing-based group Bytedance, which boasts more than 200 million users and is one of the world's largest with a valuation over $20 billion, according to

The ban was triggered by a service offered through which users shared ribald jokes and videos, which Zhang said had now been permanently shut down.

"Over the years, authorities have given us lots of guidance and support but I did not truly understand or recognise this in my heart," Zhang said.

Saying the company had prioritised growth over social responsibility, Zhang pledged to reassess the company's vision and offer more "positive" fare in these "great times" brought by the

Zhang said the number of staff charged with eliminating banned content would be raised to 10,000, up from 6,000, and that it would create a blacklist of banned users and deploy new

tightly monitors the internet for sensitive or unapproved content, and has wielded an increasingly heavy hand as has strengthened his own grip on the country with calls for a return to socialist purity under the dominance of the party.

It wasn't clear what specific content triggered the moves against the three apps, which also included apps by Tencent, and Phoenix News. Toutiao was banned from downloads for three weeks, while the others received lesser shutdowns.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, April 11 2018. 13:55 IST