Live streaming and reinvigoration on Momo: Exploring the dynamic transition of a Chinese social network app

All Abstracts > Live streaming and reinvigoration on Momo: Exploring the dynamic transition of a Chinese social network app  

Live streaming and reinvigoration on Momo: Exploring the dynamic transition of a Chinese social network app  

Authors | Affiliation:
Li Haili | Queensland University of Technology; D. Bondy Valdovinos Kaye | Queensland University of Technology

Presenting at:
Panel 3D | Algorithmic imagination of social media


Momo, which branded itself as a dating and hook-up app at launch in 2011, has become one of the most popular Chinese social network apps (SNA) (Liu, 2016; Chan, 2019). Momo’s development, which has included being shut down, confronting state censorship and reposition, shifted into the live streaming space in late 2015. Live streaming significantly boosted Momo’s revenue and fostered its transition to a multi-purpose SNA. This study interrogates how Momo deployed live streaming to reinvigorate its business and transform itself from a location-based dating app to a multi-functional SNA.

This study employs platformization of cultural production theory (Nieborg & Poell, 2019) to examine the market and governance factors that influenced Momo’s transition as well as how the transformation is reflected in the platform’s infrastructure. Data for this study were collected using the app walkthrough method (Light, Burgess & Duguay, 2018) and textual analysis. Preliminary results indicate that Momo deployed live streaming to bolster its core social networking functions through merging with other functions incorporating mobile shopping, gaming, Karaoke and fan groups in the streaming settings. The technological affordances such as the ability to give virtual gifts and privately message streamers facilitate greater user engagement and thus increase Momo’s revenue. Further, this infrastructural design shift capitalizes on the interactivity of the live streaming by nurturing novel relationships between streamers and viewers. However, the Chinese government’s surveillance and censorship on social media platforms new poses challenges and restrictions. Momo has tightened its platform governance of users by imposing strict regulations to manage user conduct to comply with governmental requirements. The stricter governance and ubiquitous surveillance on Momo thus restrict user experience and the diversity of the platform.

Selected references:

Chan, L. S. (2019). Multiple uses and anti-purposefulness on Momo, a Chinese dating/social app. Information Communication and Society, 1–16.

Light, B., Burgess, J., & Duguay. S. (2018). The Walkthrough Method: An approach to the study of apps. New Media & Society, 20(3), 881-900.

Liu, T. (2016). Neoliberal ethos, state censorship and sexual culture: a Chinese dating/hook-up app. Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, 30(5), 557-566.

Nieborg, D. B. & Poell, T. (2018). The platformization of cultural production: Theorizing the contingent cultural commodity. New Media & Society, 20 (11), 4275-4292.

About the authors

Haili Li


Haili Li is a PhD researcher in Digital Media Research Centre, Faculty of Creative Industries at Queensland University of Technology. Her research interests include social media, gender and diaspora studies. 

D. Bondy Valdovinos Kaye

Email: –

D. Bondy Valdovinos Kaye is a PhD researcher in Digital Media Research Centre, Faculty of Creative Industries at Queensland University of Technology and editorial assistant for Media Industries Journal. His research interests include music industries, platform regulation, and media policy.  

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