Beijing, Apr 11 (PTI) One of China’s biggest news aggregator app with over 120 million users, including from India, has been removed from online stores for reportedly neglecting the “core socialist values”, official media here reported.

Zhang Yiming, founder of Jinri Toutian, apologised on his Sina Weibo account, akin to Twitter today saying the company “overstressed technology, but ignored the fact that technology should be used to guide users’ socialist core values, spread positive energy, meet the requirements of the times and respect public order and good custom.” Zhang’s comments came after the app was removed from online stores on Monday, and its another app Neihan Duanzi was permanently closed yesterday for vulgar content.

It apologised for overstressing technology while neglecting education on core socialist values, after the app was temporarily removed from online app stores.

The Jinri Toutiao app closed five channels, including “Qutu” (interesting pictures), “Meitu” (beautiful pictures) and “Meinv” (beautiful women), as part of the rectification, state-run Global Times reported.

Jinri Toutiao had 120 million daily active users, according to data released by the company. It has also entered the Indian market focussing on different Indian languages.

Critics say scrutiny on the social media has been increased as the government headed by President Xi Jinping firmed up controls.

Xi’s theory of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era has been incorporated in the constitution of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) and the government.

Along with Jinri Toutiao, three other popular news apps, Phoenix News, NetEase News and Tiantian Kuaibao, were also removed temporarily from online app shops on Monday to “regulate the dissemination of information,” the information platforms said.

Following them, Douyin, a go-to short video platform, closed its live broadcasts and comments to upgrade and provide better service to its users. The app will launch an anti-addiction system, news site thepaper.cn reported.

In his apology letter, Zhang pledged to expand his company’s team of content reviewers from the current 6,000 to 10,000, while creating a list of banned users and developing better technology to improve censorship.

Last week, short video app Kuaishou was asked to rectify the situation last week by police, Global Times quoted a report by the thepaper.cn.

Wang Sixin, a law professor at the Beijing-based Communication University of China, said that hiring people with a high degree of political consciousness and Party and Youth League members help these companies filter information and provide the party’s perspective.

“They also better police the content. After all, they were approved by the country and the Party,” Wang noted.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.