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Social media platforms pledge to deliver ‘positive content’ about Chinese culture

An entertainment industry group urged online platforms including giants Sina Weibo and Baidu online video streamer iQiyi to direct traffic to “positive content” rather than “unethical” stars, as part of a crackdown that is reshaping the showbiz industry and fan cultures nationwide.

The state-backed China Performing Arts Association (CAPA), whose members include theater companies, actors, directors and talent agents, made the request after summoning representatives from 14 platforms such as social media giant ByteDance Jinri Toutiao’s news aggregator and video-sharing site Bilibili for a Friday meeting.

The platforms pledged to take more action to “support content that actively promotes core socialist values ​​and traditional Chinese culture,” CAPA said in a statement released on its Saturday. public WeChat account (link in Chinese).

It comes as the government tightened its grip on the culture and entertainment industry following a series of scandals involving celebrities who were caught on alleged transgressions ranging from sexual assault to tax evasion. and unpatriotic behavior.

Earlier this month, the National Radio and Television Administration issued a notice ban the stars who occupy “incorrect political positions” or violate the “public order and ethical values” of television shows and films, as part of efforts to shield young fans from their influence.

“The participating platforms reached a consensus on the application of a more proactive self-discipline in order to maintain a clean cyberspace environment and to strengthen the construction of cultural content online,” the statement said, describing it as part of China’s campaign to fight “chaos” in industry and communities.

With the promise of promoting the circulation of “healthy content with positive values”, the platforms said they would adopt recommendation systems that take into account “content conducive to building a spiritual civilization” in their algorithms, thus ending the previous practice of traffic being used as a key recommendation criterion, according to the statement.

The statement did not explain what might constitute “healthy content”, but it is generally understood that it refers to material promoting government-ordered “core socialist values”, Communist Party political decisions and China’s economic and social development, among others. Above all, it must not harm the image of the government and the efforts of the country to build a harmonious society.

The platforms have also pledged stronger management of user accounts, claiming they will restrict and even remove those who “spread baseless celebrity gossip, embellish the facts and spread rumors and malicious hype” or post content containing private information of celebrities such as their identity and phone numbers and routes, and stir up animosity between fan groups.

Meanwhile, the platforms have said they will do more to prevent user accounts from tricking fans into fundraising to increase their idols’ web traffic and to entice or direct fans in a way. that disrupts normal social unrest.

To combat abuse of online misconduct reporting channels by some users, the platforms said they would improve their complaint systems to better judge the authenticity of submitted persons.

Contact reporter Ding Yi ([email protected]) and editor Flynn Murphy ([email protected])

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