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BEIJING—Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. played down its sales figures and touted its social welfare initiatives in the final hours of its Singles’ Day festival on Thursday, marking a shift in tone for the highly-publicized annual online shopping event. Eschewing a rolling tally tracking transactions that had taken center stage in previous years, Alibaba urged viewers of a three-hour livestream to click “like” and help raise 1 million yuan ($156,359.90) for a 200-acre (81-hectare) elephant reserve in China’s rural southwest. The e-commerce giant has this year toned down the marketing hype amid ongoing regulatory tightening from Chinese authorities, saying its focus was on sustainable growth this year. Alibaba turned China’s informal Singles’ Day into a shopping event in 2009 and built it into the world’s biggest online sales fest, dwarfing Cyber Monday in the United States. Since then, the festival, which Alibaba last year stretched to a 11-day event with the …