t appears that China’s sharing economy craze has once again gone too far. Recently, several bed-sharing apps have surfaced on WeChat, offering a platform for people to connect with others who wish to share hotel rooms.
As the name suggests, these apps allow users to “share beds” while splitting the cost of a hotel room. This function is especially appealing for young travelers on a limited budget. One of the apps, Tongzhu (同住), marketed the idea of “letting young people enjoy the services of five-star hotels at a low price.”
Unsurprisingly, WeChat recently shut down these bed-sharing apps, asserting that they encourage prostitution and the dissemination of pornographic content. A TV news report said that many male users of the apps had specifically requested that the gender of the other “bed-sharer” be a female. On their profiles, some users also wrote sexually suggestive messages, as well as ones implying that women would not have to pay for the room.
In addition, the apps had their share of security concerns as well, with users able to obtain the phone number of a “bed-sharer” without registering or verifying their identity.
According to Chinese hotel laws, it is illegal for hotel guests to sublet rooms to others not registered at the hotel. Despite including a liability disclaimer, the bed-sharing apps, along with the hotels, will be held responsible for any illegal activity that has occurred, including prostitution, reports Caijing.
Over the past year or so, we’ve seen China roll out shareable bicycles, umbrellas, workout pods, luxury cars, stools, basketball courts, boyfriends, and wheelchairs. Some of these ideas have proved better (and more legal) than others.
Last summer, a Beijing startup tried introducing shareable napping capsules, only to see them torn down a week later for breaking the fire code. A month later, another Beijing startup also ran afoul of authorities by offering shareable sex dolls.