One of China’s biggest short video and live streaming platforms has voluntarily pulled its app from iOS and Android app stores for 30 days, after authorities criticized it for spreading vulgar content online involving children.

Meipai -- owned by Meitu, which also operates China’s most popular selfie app -- had over 98 million monthly active users as of last year. Specializing in short video and live streaming, the app is popular among teenage girls.

The number of monthly active users on Meipai declined from over 152 million in June 2017 to 98 million in December 2017, as more short video apps like Douyin and Kuaishou became popular. (Picture: Meipai)

In December, Meipai started banning minors from live streaming on its platform after Chinese media reported that children were seen removing their clothes during broadcasts. At that time, Meipai said it would work harder to censor inappropriate content.

But over the weekend, Meipai came under the spotlight once again after China’s Cyberspace Administration accused it of continuing to publish sexual content involving minors to attract traffic and eyeballs. It was ordered to clean up “harmful” content.

In response to the criticism, Meitu’s CEO Xinhong Wu issued an apology with a promise to remove the Meipai app from all app stores for 30 days. The app’s “campus” channel has been shut down and two other channels have been suspended for up to a month. He also pledged to introduce a new function that allows parents to monitor a child’s account.

Meipai is the latest in a string of online content platforms in China that have come under increasing government scrutiny. Another popular short video app Kuaishou also added a parental control function after the state ordered a similar cleanup. It was accused by state media of showing “immoral” videos of teenage mothers.