Apr 30, 2024

Research Scientist Xiao Qiang Speaks on Chinese Shopping App Temu

From Forbes

Chinese Shopping App Temu Censors Searches For ‘Trump’ And ‘Biden’

By Cyrus Farivar

Temu, the Chinese retail giant that is aggressively growing in the United States, is extending censorship mandated by the Chinese government to the American market. Not only does it restrict search terms for politically sensitive topics in China — like Xi Jinping, Dalai Lama, and Chinese Communist Party — it is also censoring search results for American political topics as well.

Keyword searches for “Trump,” “Biden,” “election,” “president” and “MAGA,” which generate a multitude of results for U.S.-based retailers, return no hits on Temu, despite the fact that such items are actually listed on the platform. Hundreds of Trump and Biden-themed products are available for purchase on the site, like this Trump baseball cap or this set of stickers advertising support for the current American president. While searching for “Trump” pulls up nothing, other terms like “freedom” or “USA” result in Trump merch like a coffee mug or pocket watch or flag...

Temu’s decision to allow Trump-related products while censoring search results “suggests a deliberate choice to dissociate the products from politically charged discussions,” Xiao Qiang, a research scientist at the UC Berkeley School of Information and an expert on the Chinese internet, told Forbes by email. In other words, it may be a way to satisfy the authorities back in Beijing...


Xiao Qiang is the founder and editor-in-chief of the China Digital Times and a research scientist at the School of Information.

Last updated:

May 10, 2024