China wants to control how popular streamers act and dress

Zeng, who asked to be called by her last name to avoid identification, found it ridiculous. “I don’t think she did anything that was unreasonable or morally corrupt by today’s standards. On the contrary, I think she’s doing something that can help people,” she said. Longfei’s account was finally reinstated in June.

Live streaming was a hit in China in 2016 and has since become one of the nation’s favorite ways to spend free time, with 635 million viewers. Top streamers attract audiences in e-commerce, music, games and comedy, and they earn huge amounts of money from their millions of devoted fans. As a result, they can often possess as much influence as A-list celebrities.

But many streamers, like Lawyer Longfei, are grappling with the Chinese government’s growing willingness to weigh what’s acceptable. A new policy document, Code of Conduct for Streamers, released by China’s top cultural bodies on June 22, is designed to guide streamers on what to expect from them. Having managed to operate under control in recent years, live streamers are now facing the full force of China’s censorship.

The code of conduct lists 31 categories of content that shouldn’t appear in online videos, ranging from violence and self-harm to more obscure concepts like religious teachings and flaunting wealth. These guidelines also include the streamer’s appearance rules, and it forbids the use of deepfakes to break jokes on China’s leadership.

“I think this is an integrated effort towards the goal of nationwide coverage,” said Jingyi Gu, a doctoral student in China streaming at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. all online platforms and any genre of streaming players. It replaces previous patchwork or provincial regulations, and it also complements other regulations governing marketing platforms and companies. “[This one] Gu talks about people streaming as an independent profession, like actors.

It is clear that the Chinese government is in the process of taming an industry that has become too powerful to ignore. Over the past year, some of China’s top live streamers fall from their thrones after being fined for tax evasion or triggering censorship around political events. But by introducing limitations on paper, the Code of Conduct is paving the way for further interventions in the future.

‘The end of the universe’

There’s a popular saying in China right now: “The end of the universe is selling stuff on live streaming.” It mocks the fact that today, professionals from all professions—lawyer, teacher, celebrity—Seems to have become money-making streamers as QVC-style product presenters.

“Americans and Europeans certainly don’t think of live streaming as a mainstream channel for shopping and not even a mainstream channel for entertainment, but in China it has become extremely popular,” says Gu. variable.

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