China orders short video apps to censor all content, including user comments, satire and sexual moaning
- The move to tighten censorship on short videos affects 594 million users in China
Chinese authorities have introduced detailed regulations covering the country’s thriving short video industry, singling out 100 categories of banned content, from smearing the image of Communist Party leaders to sexual moaning, in the latest ongoing effort to clean up its cyberspace that has more than 800 million users.
The China Netcasting Services Association, one of the largest internet associations in the country, released two sets of management rules on Wednesday for the short video industry to give clearer guidance for industry players, including Tencent Holdings, Kuaishou and Beijing ByteDance Technology, on what content needs to be censored and what does not.
The first rule states that all video content, including the title, introduction and viewer comments, need to be reviewed before broadcast. Further, all companies involved in the short video business also need to set up a content reviewing team with a strong political sense.
The move to tighten censorship on short videos, which boast 594 million users in China, comes on the heels of a six-month online clean-up campaign launched by China’s cyberspace administration earlier this month to police information that is deemed “negative and harmful”.
In a separate set of rules, the government-backed body lists a total of 100 categories of banned content on short video apps, ranging from separatism to sex to slandering, which are designed to provide “practical” censorship standards for frontline content modifiers.
The association also published rules for short video app operators, who are not allowed to “ridicule, satirise, oppose, defame the socialist mode, theory, system, and culture with Chinese characteristics, and the country’s major principles and policies.”
Users are also banned from creating animated images and short clips from national leaders’ speeches or mimicking their gestures and dress.
A large section of the new regulations are dedicated to pornography and sexual content. The sounds of sexual moaning, kissing, caressing, showering, foot fetishism, and nipples visible under clothing, along with other sex-related depictions “simply for sensory stimulation purposes”, are not allowed in videos.
Under Chinese president Xi Jinping, the ruling Communist Party has tightened its grip on the internet, with even moderately critical voices now silenced, after a relatively vibrant political environment began to emerge on social media platforms including live-streaming, short videos and microblogs.