Recently a Weibo user with more than 1.4 million followers posted a series of screenshots of pregnant teenagers livestreaming their lives on Kuaishou, one of the most popular social video sharing apps in China. The post soon went viral on Chinese social media, shocking netizens across the country. It has since been deleted.
On Kuaishou, the tag “00后宝妈” (post-2000s mom, aka underage mothers born after the year 2000) was trending not long ago with numerous teenage girls, as young as 14 to 16, posting selfies and sharing videos. According to their posts, they are quite proud of their pregnant bellies.
14-year-old pregnant teen (left); 15-year-old mom with her 8-day-old baby (right).
After the Weibo user’s post went viral, Kuaishou responded by deleting the accounts of pregnant teens and released a statement saying that they had contacted police in regards to the matter. It’s worth noting that the marriageable age in China is 22 for men and 20 for women.
Online commenters have been criticizing Kuaishou for not doing enough to censor this kind of inappropriate content, demanding that the government step forward and shut down the app. However, some fought back against the backlash. “What does this have to do with Kuaishou? These kids get pregnant with or without Kuaishou. Just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean that they don’t exist,” one netizen wrote.
Kuaishou (快手), meaning “quick hand” in Chinese, is a video sharing platform that became the biggest app in China in terms of monthly traffic by the end of 2015, followed by Weibo and WeChat, according to a China Unicom report last year. However, internationally, it doesn’t have the same name recognition as those other social media giants. This is because the app’s target audience is mostly the “forgotten people,” the 674 million rural residents of China who enjoy posting bizarre videos of, for example, eating the non-edible, like light bulbs.
Overweight teenagers smoking and drinking:
And other interesting aspects of rural life in China:
Valued at $3 billion with more than 150 million monthly active users, Kuaishou is likely to IPO in the United States at the end of the year. However, the app is increasingly drawing more scrutiny with net users charging that it is causing a negative impact on society.
Kuaishou opens a window to the cruel reality of rural China where children are left behind by their parents who go to work in big cities and where teenagers show off their pregnant bellies to an audience, reflecting the huge divide between China’s countryside and its megacities like Shanghai and Beijing. While those in the cultural mainstream may express their shock and disgust at Kuaishou users and pressure the platform into deleting content and accounts, this does nothing to solve the problems of the tens of millions of underpaid, overworked rural poor, not to mention those underage moms who are looked down upon by mainstream society.
By Alex Tang
[Images via Weibo / Tencent]
Follow Shanghaiist on WeChat