The Chinese hotel room sharing platform, Tongzhu, came under fire recently after news reports suggested that its poor marketing implied it was a platform for arranging one-night stands.
Tongzhu is a platform for users of different genders to find someone to share your hotel room.
The founder of the online platform announced that users of opposite genders would be no longer be able to see each other on the app, after the service was suspended for obscenity last week.
The app was launched in August 2017 with social network WeChat, and has now blocked the feature for sexually suggestive content.
On the platform, users can either publish an advert for the room they are offering, or what they are looking for.
Tongzhu is meant to be aimed at young people who want to find good quality accommodation at an affordable price. However, on the app it states: “Sleep with them, feel 20 again.”
Also according to a Southern Metropolis Daily report on 17th January, users were seen sending messages such as “I want you to warm up the bed for me” despite the platform’s rules of banned vulgar and pornographic content.
According to Tongzhu’s founder Wu Xüyang, the app had over 20,000 daily users before the suspension.
Wu also told Sixth Tone that the marketing was based on the concept of sharing and the “feel 20 again” was a slogan referenced the title of a 2015 rom-com. He explained in a written statement: “We wanted to convey that through room-sharing, one can regain that feeling of youth and romance.”
You Yunting, a lawyer from Shanghai DeBund Law Offices, told Sixth Tone that there is nothing unlawful about sharing hotel rooms: “Because guests will register at the hotel with their real identities, individuals can be held accountable if any legal problems occur.”
He added: “But if the platform uses sex as a selling point, it could be held liable for encouraging sexual transactions — crossing the line into prostitution, which is a crime in China.”
Wu has also announced that Tongzhu will be back after some adjustments, including no longer offering room-sharing for users of different genders and it will now only show same-sex users when visiting the app.
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