Type of site
|Web 2.0, Social network service, Online music, movie and book database|
|Key people||Yang Bo|
|Launched||March 6, 2005|
Douban.com (Chinese: 豆瓣; pinyin: Dòubàn), launched on March 6, 2005, is a Chinese social networking service website that allows registered users to record information and create content related to film, books, music, recent events, and activities in Chinese cities. It could be seen as one of the most influential web 2.0 websites in China. Douban also owns an internet radio station, which ranks No.1 in the iOS App Store in 2012. Douban was formerly open to both registered and unregistered users. For registered users, the site recommends potentially interesting books, movies, and music to them in addition to serving as a social network website such as WeChat, Weibo and record keeper; for unregistered users, the site is a place to find ratings and reviews of media.
Douban has about 200 million registered users as of 2013.
The site serves pan-Chinese users, and its contents are in Chinese. It covers works and media in Chinese and in foreign languages. Some Chinese authors and critics register their official personal pages on the site.
The site named after a Hutong in Chaoyang District, Beijing where the founder lived while he began work on the website.
Douban (Beijing Douwang Technology Co. Ltd.) was founded by Yang Bo (杨勃). He had majored in physics at Tsinghua University before he attended University of California, San Diego as a PhD student. After receiving his PhD in computational physics, he worked as a research scientist at IBM. Later, he returned to China, becoming the CTO of a software company founded by one of his friends. In 2005, Yang started to create a web 2.0 site for travelling named Lüzong (驴宗), initially a one-person project at a Starbucks in Beijing. In a couple of months, however, the site was transformed into what is now known as Douban.com.
Douban has attracted a large number of intellectuals who are eager to discuss social issues. This makes Douban vulnerable to censorship by the Chinese government. Douban reviews all content posted on the website, preventing some material from being posted in the first place, and taking down other materials after the fact.
In March 2009, Douban removed art paintings of the Renaissance on the grounds that they contained 'pornographic' elements. This led to a campaign called "Portraits: Dress up" in which internet users were asked to dress up images of famous renaissance nudes in a protest against Douban's self-censorship. The administrators then removed the discussion about the campaign.
That year also saw the 20th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, and Douban further extended its keyword list to ban any terms that are likely to relate to the incident. One example is the ban on mentioning Victoria Park in Hong Kong, the venue where the memorial gathering for the 20th anniversary was held, in the fear that it may lead to sensitive discussions. Users also found that some discussion groups, like the Hong Kong cultural study group hkren （一兜）, were suddenly banned and all topics were removed without any notice. This angered some members, causing them to move to other similar websites that employ less strict self-censorship policies.
In 2011, some Chinese lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) groups announced that they planned to boycott Douban, as their posts announcing an LGBT-themed film festival had been censored by the website. In mainland China, films and television programs with LGBT themes are subject to state censorship.
Douban has been accused that many users of Douban purposely gave The Wandering Earth, a 2019 Chinese science-fiction film, one star. Critics further accused that some users "change their given five stars to one star" and some users are paid to give one star to the film, which later turned out to be false. On 12 February 2019, Douban officially announced that "Mass score-changing is abnormal and it won't be counted in the total score. To avoid such incident, we are urgently optimizing product features." in its official Sina Weibo account.
Douban bans on the accounts if they think the accounts are posting ads. The website login by verification code from the registered phone. If the account is banned from Douban, then this account no longer can login.
Also, Douban allows real-name reporting for misinformation or infringing content posted to the forum. Since a significant amount of celebrity gossips or controversial issues have been first exposed on Douban, public opinions on Douban are often closely monitored. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see discussion posts related to celebrity-related affairs being reported and removed on Douban, which will also cause the posting accounts to be banned.
On April 15, 2021, the Beijing Internet Court announced that it had accepted a case involving disputes over the privacy rights and personal information protection of the "Douban" App. In this case, a Douban user accused Douban App of collecting personal location information and demanded Douban compensate him for a loss of 1 yuan. Douban was sued for infringing user privacy. According to the user, although he never authorized Douban to obtain personal geographic location information, Douban targeted him to push advertisements based on his location.
Douban's administrators are suspected of infringing user privacy. In 2015, some users posted on Douban, saying that Douban violated their privacy. The user stated that Douban deleted his backup in a private group (only the user can access it) without his consent. The backup data of its private group is completely confidential information, and no one should be able to see it except the users.