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China’s Latest Viral App Sparks Discussion On Data-Collecting Methods

China’s latest viral sensation, the ‘Personality Label’ app, has taken Chinese social media sites by storm. But after reportedly violating WeChat community guidelines, skeptical netizens have triggered a discussion on the rules surrounding popular apps.

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China’s latest viral sensation, the ‘Personality Label’ app, has taken Chinese social media sites by storm. But after reportedly violating WeChat community guidelines, skeptical netizens have triggered a discussion on the rules surrounding popular apps.

China’s social media sites are never short of trends that can dominate user’s newsfeeds for weeks at a time. However, the latest fad to explode onto the apps of Chinese social media platforms such as Sina Weibo and WeChat seems to have been encountering some issues during its brief time in the spotlight, leading to an online debate on viral apps and the information they collect.

This week, an app by the name of Plato Personality Label (柏拉图性格标签) has been widely circulated among Chinese netizens. The app promises to ‘measure’ your personality with a short test before producing an aesthetically pleasing collage detailing your character. Users are presented with a series of phrases such as “Values their principles!” (“重视原则!”) or “Sometimes overly ambitious” (“有时会好高骛远”).

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The premise is simple enough, and has spread quickly due to the QR-scanning function available on many Chinese social media apps.

After scanning the QR code, users are directed to an official WeChat account under the name of ‘Hangzhou City West’ (杭州大城西).  Once users enter the official account, it invites you to take the personality test under the slogan “Create your own label, endorse yourself!” (“生成你的性格标签,为自己代盐!”). The app then takes your name (4 characters maximum), and birth date, before ‘calculating’ your personality.

The resulting pictures were soon littered around WeChat and Weibo, particularly after popular online celebrity Papi Jiang featured the app on her official Weibo account (@搭配酱). Her post featured numerous screenshots of various personality labels under celebrities’ names, saying: “When I woke up this morning, my whole newsfeed was covered in people’s personality labels.”

Many netizens were spurred into trying the app after seeing it spread through social media. Among many similar posts, user @Baby柒小柒 commented: “So many people on my newsfeed playing ‘Personality Label’, so I had to try it myself!”

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Others were anxious to point out flaws in the personality test after putting celebrity names in. One Weibo user (@裂缝中的阳光25) responded to Papi Jiang’s post: “The test result that I got for Zhang Yixing wasn’t the same, did you not put in the star sign? It seems like you got it wrong.”

Some of the even higher-rated comments under a news report by Sina Tech contained cautions by those who were more sceptical of the app’s intentions: “Viral apps are really annoying, and I have a small suspicion that they’re stealing people’s personal information,” one netizen said (@一只都放假).

User @UTOUU-仙参 agreed, writing: “Feel sick looking at this kind of stuff, who knows what information they collect and what they do with it behind the scenes?”

Amongst the mixed reviews, the app’s rapid rise to popularity has not entirely been smooth sailing. It was only shortly after the app was gaining steam that users began to be directed away from the page and presented with a warning that the site had been removed.

Sina Tech reported that despite the app soaring through the download charts from the 150th to the 10th place, it was later removed for violating WeChat community guidelines, sparking a debate on how WeChat responds to popular apps using its platform, as well as a discussion on whether they enforce their guidelines selectively.

Despite this hiccup, the app went online again at roughly 11:30pm on Sunday night, July 17th.

It is not yet known why WeChat decided to reverse their decision of removal – although parts of the app may have been modified to comply with existing guidelines.

As in the Weibo comments above, some users reported having to previously enter their star sign amongst other information, whereas the app now solely asks for a name and birth date. It seems that for now, this viral app is here to stay, provided it follows the rules. Whether netizens will continue to download it or not might just be a matter of personality.

By Cat Hanson

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Cat Hanson is a U.K. graduate of Chinese Studies now teaching and living in China. She swapped Beijing for Anhui, and runs her own blog on China life: Putong Press.

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What Are Weibo’s “Super Topics”?

Explaining Weibo’s “Super Topics”

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What are Weibo’s “Super Topics” (超级话题) and what makes them different from normal hashtags?

Over the past year, Weibo’s so-called “Super Topics” (超级话题) have become more popular on the social media platform as online spaces for people to connect and share information.

Weibo’s “super topic” function has been around since 2016. The function allows Weibo users to create and join interest-based content community pages that are online groups separated from the main Weibo space. One could perhaps compare these Weibo Super Groups to ‘mega-threads’ or ‘subreddits’ on Reddit.

These are the most important things to know about Weibo’s Super Topics:

 

#1 A Super Topic is Not the Same as a Hashtag

Similar to Twitter, hashtags make it possible for Weibo users to tag a topic they are addressing in their post so that their content pops up whenever other people search for that hashtag.

Different from Twitter, Weibo hashtags also have their own page where the hashtag is displayed on top, displaying how many people have viewed the hashtag, how many comments the hashtag is tagged in, and allowing users to share the hashtag page with others.

A Super Topic goes beyond the hashtag. It basically is a community account where all sort of information is shared and organized. People can ‘follow’ (关注) a Super Topic and can also ‘sign in’ (签到).

On the main page of every Super Topic page, the main subject or purpose of the super topic is briefly explained, and the number of views, followers, and posts are displayed.

A super topic-page can be created by any Weibo user and can have up to three major hosts, and ten sub-hosts. The main host(s) can decide which content will be featured as essential, they can place sticky notes, and post links to suggested topics.

 

#2 A Super Topic Is a Way to Organize Content

Super Topic pages allow hosts to organize relevant content in the way they want. Besides the comment area, the page consists of multiple tabs.

A tab right underneath the main featured information on the page, for example, shows the “sticky posts” (置顶帖) that the host(s) of the page have placed there, linking to relevant information or trending hashtag pages. Below the sticky notes, all the posts posted in the Super Topic community are displayed.

One of the most important tabs within the Super Topic page is called “essential content” (精花), which only shows the content that is manually selected by the host(s). This is often where opinion pieces, articles, official news, or photos, etc. are collected and separated from all the other posts.

Another tab is the “Hall of Fame” (名人堂), which mainly functions as a reference page. It features links to the personal Weibo pages of the super topic page host(s), links to the Weibo pages of top contributors, and shows a list of the biggest fans of the Super Topic. Who the biggest fan of the page is, is decided by the number of consecutive days a person has “checked-in” on the page.

 

#3 Super Topics Are a Place for Fans to Gather

Although a Super Topic could basically be about anything, from cities to products or hobbies, Super Topics are often created for Chinese celebrities, video games, football clubs, or TV dramas.

Through Super Topic pages, a sense of community can be created. People can be ranked for being the most contributive or for checking in daily, and comment on each other’s posts, making it a home base for many fan clubs across China.

The host(s) can also help somebody’s page (e.g. a celebrity account) grow by proposing them to others within the group.

Super Groups are ranked on Weibo based on their popularity. This also gives fans more reason to stay active in the group, making their Super Topic top ranking within their specific category (TV drama, food, photography, sports, games, etc).

What makes the Super Topic group more ‘private’ than the common Weibo area, is that people posting within the Super Topic can decide whether or not they also want their comment shared on their own Weibo page or not. If they choose not to, their comments or posts will only be visible within the Super Topic community.

 

By Manya KoetseGabi Verberg, with contributions from Boyu Xiao

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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Online Controversy over Mandatory GPS Tracking Smartwatches for Chinese Street Cleaners

Being a street cleaner in 2019 China now involves wearing a mandatory smartwatch with GPS tracking.

Gabi Verberg

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Image via Sina.com

The times of chatting with the neighbors, taking a break, or doing some shopping during work hours are seemingly over for Nanjing’s street cleaners now that their every move is monitored through a special smartwatch. News of the mandatory GPS tracking bracelets for sanitary workers triggered public outcry earlier this month. But it’s not just Nanjing street cleaners that are subjected to this policy.

Earlier this month, the introduction of smartwatches tracking the movements of street cleaners in Nanjing attracted the attention of Chinese netizens and international media after the new policy was made public on April 3rd.

In March of this year, the sanitation department in the Hexi area of Nanjing, Jiangsu, started a pilot with a smartwatch that sanitation workers are obliged to wear. The watch has a built-in real-time GPS tracking system, allowing the Nanjing Hexi Smart Sanitation Center to monitor workers’ movements.

In a short video published by Toutiao News, a spokesperson of the Smart Sanitation Command Center* explained that the smartwatch currently allows the company to assess the workers in three ways: they can register workers’ attendance, collect statistics of workers leaving their designated work area, and report on workers that remain in the same position exceeding the allowed amount of time.

Sanitation workers also commented on their new working system. One person interviewed said: “Why wouldn’t I be allowed to have a half-an-hour break? Look, the street is all clean, there is nothing to be cleaned up. They are crazy for making us move up and down the street for no reason.”

Street cleaners also said that the system would automatically report them if they had been in the same spot for more than twenty minutes. The smartwatch would then subsequently encourage them to move, calling out “Jiayou! Jiayou!” (“Come on! Come on!”).

That particular function was reportedly removed shortly after public outcry on the policy.

On Weibo, the hashtag “Smartwatch Automatically Yells ‘Jiayou'” (#智能手表自动喊加油#) received over 2,5 million views, with the majority of commenters strongly rejecting the new approach.

Most commenters on this issue argued that the implementation of the smartwatch is “immoral” and that the Nanjing workers are “treated as criminals.” Many others also pointed out that the workers, often senior citizens, should be able to rest for more than 20 minutes.

In light of the new policy, many people on social media also referred to the infamous fictional character Zhou “Bapi” (周扒皮). In the novel The Killing Wind, this landlord Zhou would stick his head into the henhouse stirring up the roosters to wake his laborers up earlier, so they would start working.

Some netizens came with an alternative solution, suggesting that the leaders of the company should wear the smartwatches themselves instead.

While the controversial function was eliminated, the GPS tracking function still stands.

Nanjing is not the first city to introduce GPS tracking smartwatches for its sanitary workers. Other cities where the same policy has been introduced are, for example, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, and Qingdao, according to Chinese media outlet Global Times.

In the summer of 2018, various Chinese media outlets already reported about the introduction of smartwatches for street cleaners in Guangzhou. At the time, the smartwatch policy was described as an innovative way to solve staff deployment and management problems, giving team leaders more insights into the real-time position of the street cleaners.

Whether or not the smartwatches do indeed improve work efficiency of street cleaners is still unclear, but there are no indications that the smartwatch policy will be changed at this point.

The tough work conditions of Chinese street cleaners, who work long hours and receive minimal pay, regularly become an issue of debate on Chinese social media. Besides praising the hard work of China’s public cleaners, Chinese netizens often express their sympathy for the bad circumstances under which street sweepers have to work.

By Gabi Verberg

* (南京河西建环”智能环卫”综合调度监控指挥中心 Nanjing Hexi Jianhuan “Intelligent Sanitation” Integrated Dispatching Monitoring Command Center)

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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What’s on Weibo provides social, cultural & historical insights into an ever-changing China. What’s on Weibo sheds light on China’s digital media landscape and brings the story behind the hashtag. This independent news site is managed by sinologist Manya Koetse. Contact info@whatsonweibo.com. ©2014-2018

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