即刻 is Back

This was originally a Tweet.

  • It appears that 即刻 (to date, it does not appear to have an official English name, and thus will be transliterated as JiKe)—the closest Chinese analog to tech Twitter, filled with hot takes by Chinese VCs and PMs—is now available on iOS App Store.
  • This is nearly a year after it has been removed for running foul of Chinese laws.
  • While it was blocked, it was reincarnated as Jellow and was distributed using Apple Developer Enterprise Program, bypassing the gatekeeping role of Apple’s App Store. Now that the original app is restored, Jellow has since been deprecated.
  • Based on this widely disseminated LatePost article,1 Jike was taken down in the first place because of content moderation issues.
  • Throughout the article, the exact issue was never really spelled out. It noted that before the ban, Jike relied mostly on algorithmic content moderation but has now built up a team of 100+ people in Ningbo.
  • Notably, in this new version of the app, users can no longer private message each other. (The causality here is unclear.) Anecdotally, I’ve been told that there are emerging guidelines (?) and best practices on how the back-end of Chinese social media content moderation systems should be designed, but I don’t know enough to have a view on this. If this is right, it illustrates the regressive effect of regulation in general. To wit, WeChat’s network-effects-style natural monopoly is certainly further enhanced by the regulatory barrier imposed by Chinese content moderation.
  • Despite its ban and other competitors seeking to fill its niche (e.g. ByteDance’s 飞聊), none has clearly emerged to replace it. (To reduce it to “China’s Tech Twitter” is probably unjust. It is also Reddit-like in the way it organizes content by community more explicitly than Twitter’s more “free-for-all” style.)
  • For those interested in the mechanics of Chinese regulation, it is also worth noting that user generated content and data were not lost through this ban (i.e. there is continuity of content in the off-App-Store reincarnation Jellow and now in the restored app).
  • Jike is also not shy about the fact that it had been blocked. Users re-joining the app (like myself) were shown a welcome video that briefly analogized the ban to “an unexpected snowstorm”.

Using JiKe as an information source is likely to pay off for those interested in arbitraging across Western and Chinese tech trends.

  1. The article is written in an obviously partial and sensational 【煽情】 way (in my opinion, the Chinese media landscape + human nature make it hard for an objective, analytical writing style to take off) but the author’s access and 晚点’s influence in China are undeniable.[]