Photographer: Tom Hauck/Getty Images 

Chinese Communist Paper Slams Q&A Apps for Giving Easy Answers

  • People’s Daily takes aim at Quora-like services in editorial
  • Zhihu and other apps become the latest in a line of targets

China’s most influential government newspaper is turning its gaze to Quora-like platforms that aim to answer users’ questions -- sometimes for a fee.

Zhihu, Fenda, Dedao and Sina’s iask are among a cohort of increasingly popular Chinese services that blend Quora and Reddit, allowing millions to pose and respond to questions, or pay to hear from celebrities and experts. That model has raised the ire of the People’s Daily, which says the best critical thinking is done slowly and people have become too dependent on easy answers supplied over the internet.

“Regardless of how technology develops, we should all keep the capability of thought in our own hands,” it argued in an opinion piece that called out the services by name.

It’s unclear whether the newspaper’s denunciation will result in any action against the companies that host those services, many of which are attracting investment from the likes of Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Sina Corp. Zhihu raised $100 million from Tencent and others in January, Caixin reported.

The newspaper didn’t offer any solutions. Long a bellwether of views within the ruling Communist Party, the People’s Daily’s editorials have sporadically targeted companies from Apple Inc. to Tencent. 

It took on the latter for fanning gaming addiction and news aggregation giant Toutiao for stealing headlines. The critique of Honour of Kings addiction hit Tencent’s shares and prompted China’s biggest social media company to impose restrictions on how long children can play. But its criticism of Toutiao had little effect on the $20 billion startup, whose Chief Executive Officer Zhang Yiming continues to tout its model at conferences across the country.

— With assistance by David Ramli

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