Little Red Book unprecedently bans dozens popular brands involved in "fake content" overnight

by Queenie Yao & Davy Huang

Today (December 16), social sharing platform Little Red Book launched new round of ban list which includes well-known brands including Wonderlab, Daewoo, RNW, Nivea, Dove, Neutrogena and more. There are in total 29 popular brands involved, and the list could be expanding.

When user type in the affected brand name or brand-related keyword in Little Red Book search box, the content of the related notes is no longer displayed. The result page only showed the prompt, "The brand is suspected of false marketing, and the related content will not be displayed."

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It is rumoured that these brands are related to a same marketing agency that provides Little Red Book ‘KOC marketing’ service, and allegedly provides content posts without actually sending real products to these ‘KOC’. This is a direct violation of the Little Red Book community rules.

In fact, "ghostwriting’ is nothing new. After brands give marketing promotion materials, a considerable number of agencies have sent the products to ghostwriters and provide content that looks to be actual shopping notes. Many of the content appears to be real shopping notes – but in fact are edited images.

The most valuable content community in China is planning for IPO?

Chinese digital-savvier consumers are increasingly turning to Little Red Book for peer reviews. Unlike other platforms where users must sift through a plethora of content to obtain reviews, Little Red Book is a great place to quickly find user reviews from peers or influencers for product research. This super unicorn has doubled the number of monthly active users to 160 million over the past year, and DAU around 55 million. In today's increasingly expensive Internet traffic, this growth in speed and volume is awe-inspiring – and possesses great advertising value.

With a robust user growth, LRB is attracing a lot of attention from the capital market. A month ago, this social e-commerce platform announced it had raised $500 million in the latest pre-IPO financing headed by existing shareholders Temesek Holdings and Tencent, with additions from Alibaba Group, Genesis Capital and others, with the latest valuation around 18 billion USD.

Established as a lifestyle-sharing social platform, Little Red Book today has become a pan-lifestyle community, from female-dominated to the influx of more male users. For many young people, the platform has become an encyclopedia. For brands, it’s increasingly important to invest in growing the brand’s discussion and popularity in the Little Red Book platform.

Complaints against Little Red Book have risen

However the platform’s long-term established authenticity is greatly challenged by the increasing amount of fake reviews. Little Red Book has been criticized by media several times in the last six months for allowing fake contents to go without punishment. 

After China's national holiday Golden Week, Little Red Book is under fire for misleading travel reviews. The platform received multiple complaints from customers who said they felt tricked when they visited the vacation spots for publishing an increasing number of heavily manipulated images of tourist destinations on its platform.

In early December, some users of Little Red Book discovered that they were frequently targeted with content from teen users, including photographs with some nudity. The hashtag topics sparked a heated discussion on China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo.

After being exposed by the media, Little Red Book immediately apologized for leaking teens’ private images and stated that it would start a new round of underage censorship shortly.

Little Red Book has been fighting against ghostwriters for a long time since the community was launched. Back in 2019, Little Red Book had been taken off China’s app stores for two and a half months due to disturbing sexual contents. Since 2019, Little Red Book has set up a professional team to monitor and censor contents that are violating community rules. It has successfully implemented multiple rounds of special false marketing control projects to combat low-rating content and fake notes and accounts.

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