China

China Cracks Down On Romance Fraud, Arrests More Than 1000 Scammers

China
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Chinese dating scammers are in hot water this summer. More than a thousand members of fraud rings have been arrested in the country over the last two months, potentially saving thousands of singles from falling victim to their deceit.

In June, police in the southern province of Guangdong cracked down on 13 gangs who posed as attractive women in order to con men into purchasing pricey products like tea and wine. Authorities apprehended a total of 1,310 suspects, each of whom could approach up to 1,500 victims per month.

“These scam gangs [succeed] because they capture the psychology of many men: When facing beautiful women, men lose their judgement, and feel too shy to refuse,” a Guangdong police officer said at a briefing about the arrests.

China’s Tinder Explores AI, Monetization, And Overseas Expansion

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Chinese Tinder clone Tantan is embracing the future with open arms.

Like several of its colleagues in the United States -- including Match, Happn, and Hinge -- Tantan is experimenting with artificial intelligence as a tool for modern matchmaking. Chief Executive Yu Wang announced earlier this month at RISE Hong Kong that AI is a primary focus for the company in the second half of 2018, and that he hopes it will be a key driver of growth going forward.

The technology will be used to improve the accuracy of user acquisition and advertising, as well as to boost growth in user numbers and revenues more generally.

SeekingArrangement Was China’s Hottest, Then Most Hated, Dating App In Just A Few Days

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Forget Ziggy Stardust. The award for ‘Most Exciting Rise And Fall’ this week goes to SeekingArrangement, the notorious sugar daddy dating website founded by Brandon Wade in 2006.

The US-based service suddenly soared to the top of the popularity charts in China’s iOS App Store, moving up 765 places on May 22 to take the number one spot for free social networking apps. Though SeekingArrangement has been in China since 2015, this marked the first time it topped the App Store rankings in the country. By comparison, according to Quartz, it ranks only 63rd on the same chart in the United States.

It is unclear what caused SeekingArrangement’s unexpected ascent to the throne. The company connects users -- usually an older, wealthier man and a young, attractive woman -- for what it politely calls “mutually beneficial relationships” or “compensated dating”. Considering the notoriously conservative culture in China, as well as the government’s recent crackdown on violent and sexually suggestive content on dating sites, the app’s download boom is all the more mystifying.

Sina Weibo Bans Gay Content, Quickly Backtracks After User Uproar

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It’s been a wild month for Sina Weibo. On Friday April 13, the Chinese social media network unveiled plans to delete all posts relating to gay culture as part of a three-month “cleanup” effort. A mere three days later, the company announced it would reverse the ban following an outpouring of anger from users.

Sina Weibo initially described the campaign as a removal of images, videos, text, and cartoons related to pornography, violence, and homosexuality. "This is to further ensure a clear and harmonious society and environment," the network said in its statement, as well as to comply with stricter cybersecurity laws enacted by President Xi Jinping.

But to many users, the announcement had sinister underpinnings. Tens of thousands took to the social network to express outrage at the campaign’s discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in China, an issue that persists more than two decades after the country decriminalized homosexuality.

Grindr Buyout By Chinese Firm Sparks Privacy Concerns

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After purchasing a majority stake in Grindr last year, ​​​​​​a Chinese gaming company has acquired the rest of the popular dating app for gay men. The acquisition means a major payday for the company, but China experts and former intelligence officials fear it could spell privacy problems for users.

Kunlun Group purchased 60 percent of Grindr in January 2016 for $93 million. The Chinese firm has now acquired the remaining stake for $152 million, according to stock filings, which some believe puts the Chinese government in a position to demand sensitive data on the app’s users, including those who are not Chinese citizens.

Kunlun Group initially indicated that Grindr founder Joel Simkhai would stay on as CEO, but following the completion of the deal, Simkhai has left the company with no explanation for his departure.

12 Chinese Dating Apps Shuttered For Using Bots Posing As Women

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Dating apps run by 21 firms in China have been shut down amid allegations of fraud affecting hundreds of thousands of customers.

According to the Modern Express newspaper, police have arrested more than 600 suspects operating across 13 provinces after it was revealed that some of their messages purporting to be from female users were in fact being automatically generated by computer programs.

The investigation began in August 2017, after one app was suspected of fraudulently charging customers to view pornographic videos that did not exist. When users complained, customer service representatives were instructed to invent excuses such as a malfunctioning mobile version or poor internet speed. Users would then be charged again each time they tried to view the imaginary content.