China's internet watchdog releases social media rules for celebrities

November 25, 2021 10:05 am

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said it will launch a negative list, which aims at preventing celebrity-related content from promoting distorted values and creating a clean and healthy internet space.

In an announcement issued on Tuesday, the internet regulator pointed out that unhealthy phenomena such as abnormal aesthetics, spreading scandals, and irrational idol worship, have brought impacted on mainstream values.

To properly oversee celebrity-related content, the department will propose 15 specific measures, including management on content and celebrities' social media accounts.

The regulator said it would create a negative list that targets influencers and celebrities who promote bad values, such as flaunting their wealth, spreading scandals, and enticing fans to spend money for them.

Following the announcement, Douyin, the sister app of TikTok, said it would further standardize the management of celebrity-related content, enhance public opinion monitoring and response mechanisms, and establish a long-term governance structure for the sector.

Kuaishou, China's second-largest short video platform, also proclaimed that it would set up a celebrity-related information monitoring and reaction system, as well as tighten the supervision of relevant accounts.

Beijing has tightened its grip on online content this year, striving to create a purified internet ecology, in which hedonism and toxic fandom culture are not welcome.

In May, the regulator kicked off “clean and healthy cyberspace”campaign, urging social media platforms to prevent bragging about wealth, extravagance, and hedonism that could harm the development of minors.

Tencent, Douyin, Douban, Sina Weibo, and a slew of other social media companies have published statements, promising to sweep out the chaos. 

Xiaohongshu, a Pinterest-like photo sharing site, said on November 18 that between May and October, it had reported 8,787 posts and punished 240 accounts for flaunting wealth, adding that its artificial intelligence-powered algorithms had been updated to recognize wealth-bragging-related content more accurately. 

CAC in June launched a two-month campaign targeting rising problems related to fan circles, including online trolling, rumor-mongering and doxing. 

The regulator shut down accounts and disbanded social media groups that were deemed a "bad influence," and imposed penalties on internet platforms that "condoned" such chaos.

Later in August, the case of followers blindly supporting scandal-ridden celebrities aggravated regulators’ concerns about irrational fan culture. At that time, Chinese-Canadian pop singer Kris Wu was detained by Beijing police on suspicion of sexual assault, and his fan group defended him on various social media platforms.

Under the influence of the top internet watchdog, most senseless fan accounts, as well as Wu's own accounts, were terminated by social media platforms. 

Meanwhile, CAC specified 10 measures, including cancelling all ranking lists of entertainers, barring forums that pick fights and lead to chaos, and requesting agencies to better guide fan groups, and asked provincial offices to heighten the efforts to rectify the fandom chaos.