• Alipay mobile app

Alipay mobile app (Photo : Getty Images)

Ant Financial added "Circles" in their Alipay mobile app a week ago, giving users new social media features. Users can now collaborate through groups, communicate through chat and share their own photos. Unfortunately, these new features are being exploited by users to promote soft pornography.

Like Us on Facebook

Circles was first released to selected users in cities like Shanghai and Beijing in early November.

A group created by Alipay called “Eligible Singles” required new invites to "measure their attractiveness" through the app’s facial recognition software. They are then evaluated and users with high ratings are the only ones that became official members.

The group’s aim is to organize periodic online/offline matchmaking events that involve income.

Apparently, there are some circles that are configured so that women are only the ones that are allowed to post. There are also groups that restrict comments to users with high credit scores.

A group “White Collar Diary” has a post by a woman that showed her hugging a pillow on her bed in a suggestive pose. She then accompanied this post with a message stating that she will chat with someone who will give her a gift. Gifts are similar to a like button on social media sites, but with money attached on them.

Another group named “Campus Diary” restricted users with low credit scores from commenting on women posts but did allow them to send gifts.

Ant Financial already took down both groups and banned users who posted malicious content. They are also promising to shut down circles that are involved on lewd material postings in the future.

Mark Natikin, managing director at Marbridge, said: “While I’m sure Alipay never intended for those it had invited to use Circles in this way, they inadvertently created an environment conducive to that.”

Peng Lei, the founder and chairwoman of Ant Financial, defended the new groups feature, and said: “Campus Diary was one bad group among others meant to foster a beautiful sharing experience.”