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Chinese Video Platforms Face Regulation Fire

Jul 31, 2018 by A. Alfaro
Chinese Video Platforms Face Regulation Fire

Popular Chinese video sharing app Bilibili (or B-Zhan) which was recently listed in the US, has been permanently taken down from app stores following a Chinese government clampdown on pornography, copyrights violation and fake news.

The company’s stocks nosedived by 4.42% on July 27, the day of the ban.

Several video sharing platforms in China met similar fates or were temporarily blacklisted with strict instructions to clean up their content following China's Cyberspace Administration, along with its Ministry of Industry and Information, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Culture, the State Administration of the Press and other official bodies coming down heavily on inappropriate content in the last week of July.

As of July 30, 19 companies have received some form of punishment or warning.

While Miaopai or Bilibili have been permanently expunged from app stores, others like Onion Video were let off with a temporary ban and an instruction to conduct an internal reform.

Speaking to the news portal Securities Daily on July 27, representatives from B-Zhan declared that the company had been in talks with some government bodies and that it had been warned of penalties.

B-Zhan was asked to conduct internal reforms that were carried out, the company claimed.

An analyst who preferred to remain anonymous told Securities Daily that during the negotiations, the government had warned of a temporary take down. The final permanent ban came as a surprise.

The source observed that investors now would be much more guarded when investing in multimedia content.

A source from China's Cyberspace Administration told Netease News that the companies continued to disseminate vulgar content, fabricated news, pornography and violent videos despite repeated warnings.

He said they also violated copyright laws, promoted sensationalism and departed from “core socialist values”, harming netizens all over the country, particularly the youth.

In the last months, B-Zhan had stepped up its efforts to clean up its site. More supervision teams were established and the company doubled its content-checking capacity. On the website, B-Zhan launched a “Moral Standards Committee”, a mechanism aimed to supervise the content and encourage users to carry out a self-checking of their content.

According to the company, 36,000 people had been employed to work in the committee which were to be expanded further. A new supervision centre which was built in Wuhan, central China, was expected to become operational in July/August while plans to build another new centre were also afoot.

Other apps like 56.com Video, Neihanfulishe among others, are also likely to be permanently taken down from stores. Sources from the Cyberspace Administration told Netease News that the campaign will intensify, to promote content that enhances positive energy and a healthy social development. The source said that the Agency will encourage citizens to participate to protect a healthy Internet environment.

Miaopai has been warned three times by the regulatory bodies since early 2016. But when the company cleaned up its content, the objectionable videos were constantly re-uploaded. An analyst told Securities Daily that now Miaopai has been fatally hurt. “Taken down from the stores, the company’s owners will have to face a difficult future, the whole financial market will be influenced by this decision”.

Miaopai’s parent company, Yixia Technology, received investment from Tencent Weibo, Shanghai Media Group, Fengjr Financial, Axiom Asia and others. In November 2016, it completed its E investment round, raising USD 500 million.

A. Alfaro

A. Alfaro is a Beijing-based freelance reporter. He focuses on China's politics, culture and society. He can be reached at varofaro@gmail.com. 

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