China’s Meipai bans minors from live-streaming service following nudity scandal

Live-streaming is popular among young Chinese who view it as an easy way to become famous – and make lots of money

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 December, 2017, 1:40pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 December, 2017, 9:34pm

Meipai, China’s popular short video service operated by the Hong Kong-listed selfie touch-up app Meitu, has banned minors from using its live-streaming service following a scandal involving primary schoolchildren broadcasting nudity online.

Meipai said in a statement on Wednesday that it “immediately decided to ban minors” from live-streaming on its platform after a “bug” was found its system that allowed a few seconds of “inappropriate video” to be inserted in an hour-long live-stream.

China’s crackdown on internet live-streaming to shake up the industry

The company will also increase its manpower and improve the efficiency of systems used to censor inappropriate content broadcast on its live-streaming platform, Meipai said in a statement posted on its official Weibo account on Tuesday.

Live-streaming has become one of the hottest sectors in China’s rapidly changing internet environment, with nearly 400 million people regularly watching live broadcasts via mobile devices as a new form of entertainment, according to iResearch.

Besides the lure of becoming famous and drawing a huge following of fans, young Chinese are attracted to live streaming by the prospects of making lots of money. Papi Jiang, one of China’s top online celebrities, reportedly made over 50 million yuan (U$7.56 million) in 2016 by posting short videos to entertain her 25.76 million followers on Weibo.

Meipai’s move to step up control of live-streaming and crack down on content follows mainland China media reports about a group of Chinese primary schoolchildren removing their clothes and making sexual gestures when live-streaming on various broadcasting platforms to gain more followers.

Meipai was identified as one of the live-streaming platforms used by the children, mostly schoolgirls aged between six and 12, according to some of the media reports.

China’s top internet regulator lays down the rules on live-streaming programmes

Launched in 2014, Meipai had 152 million monthly active users as of June. The company declined to reveal the number of users who were under the age of 18.

As part of its renewed controls, Meipai said it is offering rewards from 500 yuan to 5,000 yuan to encourage people to report inappropriate content. Minors can still use the short video service to broadcast “interesting and positive” content, it added.

Chinese authorities have launched several campaigns to increase controls over live-streaming and to clean up cyberspace, targeting “vulgarity”, “obscenity”, and “wrong life values” in the live-streaming industry.

The Cyberspace Administration, China’s top internet regulator, requires all live-streaming platforms to have a license to operate. Live-streaming service providers are also required to censor live content before broadcasting it.