A pixiv clone site has been created, and users were using “magic words” to try to take it down

vpixiv is a malicious clone site that has caused quite a stir within Japan. The site was created via unauthorized copying of the data from artist community site pixiv. In response to vpixiv, pixiv users are adding “magic words” to their profiles as a method to have their account pages deleted from the clone site.

Those “magical” words happen to be the “Tiananmen Square Incident.” As vpixiv appears to be a Chinese site, users made crafty use of China’s own censorship practices to get their pages deleted from the site. Whether it was due to this or was a result of actions taken by pixiv itself, vpixiv’s servers were taken down.

pixiv is a service that allows users to post or view illustrations, manga, and novels. Since its establishment in 2005, the number of registered users has continued to grow, and it is now one of the major platforms in Japan for posting creative works. vpixiv is a clone site that copied pixiv’s data and user profile information in its entirety and then allowed the content to be freely viewed without a pixiv account.

For a time, pixiv users adopted a tactic where they would tag their own content as R18 which made it impossible to view unless you were logged into a pixiv account. However, this had a variety of problems including the fact that the tag would no longer serve its intended purpose on pixiv. That’s where the magic words come in.

The words “Tiananmen Square Incident” have often been used in Japan as a measure to prevent fraudulent activities or illegal access from China. The Tiananmen Square Incident occurred on June 4, 1989, when people participating in pro-democracy demonstrations at Tiananmen Square, Beijing, were forcibly suppressed by the military with many being killed.

Even today, over 30 years later, the Chinese government continues to restrict information related to the event within the country (related article). Content on the internet is checked, and any reference to the incident is automatically deleted. However, this system can be taken advantage of, and if fraudulent practices are being conducted by Chinese websites, just like with vpixiv, then it’s possible to cause those sites to be censored by using certain words.

This is a relatively common countermeasure in Japan and is used in a number of different ways, such as replying to a suspicious invitation on a messaging app with “Tiananmen Square Incident.” As vpixiv began to trend on Twitter in Japan, pixiv users embraced these tactics and added words like “Tiananmen Square Incident” and “8964” (a reference to the date that the incident took place) to their pixiv profile page. It appears that this may have been quite effective, with some users reporting that their pages were no longer viewable on vpixiv.

Tweet Translation:
We have released a statement regarding a site that bears a close resemblance to pixiv in both outward appearance and content. Please read the statement for further details.

pixiv itself has also released a statement regarding vpixiv (Regarding a site that bears a close resemblance to pixiv in both outward appearance and content) that says it began blocking data acquisition requests at 2 p.m. on September 1 (JST). As vpixiv appeared to copy the site’s content in its entirety, there were concerns among users regarding potential leaks of personal information, but pixiv said that there is no evidence to suggest that email addresses, payment information, or other private details were obtained.

Furthermore, at almost the same time that pixiv took action, the vpixiv site became inaccessible. It is unclear whether this was the result of pixiv’s actions or was the effect of the magic words, but it appears that the vpixiv problem has more or less been taken care of.

Even though vpixiv is now inaccessible, there is still the possibility that more of these malicious sites will pop up in the future, both in and outside of Japan. It may be a good idea to keep those magic words in mind, as they may serve as an effective trump card. Of course, it’s also important to remember to report these fraudulent sites to the official site or another appropriate place.

Written by. Marco Farinaccia based on Aki Nogishi’s original Japanese article