Chinese regulators have been trying to clean up the country’s popular live streaming industry. This includes rules about what online influencers can and cannot say and the topics that are off limits.
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Online influencers in China must now be qualified to talk about certain topics, such as law and medicine, regulators said Tuesday.
For content that requires a “higher professional level”, live streamers must have a corresponding qualification to talk about those topics, China’s State Radio and Television Administration and Ministry of Culture and Tourism said in a joint release.
Influencers need to show those qualifications to the live streaming platform they use. Those qualifications must then be assessed by the platform.
The latest rules continue Beijing’s efforts to clean up its extremely popular live streaming sector, involving some of China’s largest companies, from Tencent and Alibaba to TikTok owner ByteDance. Influencers often use such platforms to sell products and can bring in billions of dollars in sales within hours.
Over the past 16 months, China has enacted new regulations in various parts of the tech sector in a bid to take power from its once free-spirited tech giants. There have also been calls for greater control over areas Beijing believes affect society, including video games, live streaming and celebrity culture.
Last month, Chinese regulators banned children under 16 from watching live streaming content after 10 p.m. and buying virtual gifts for influencers.
The latest rules from the two Chinese government agencies include a “code of conduct” for online influencers.
Live streamers are not allowed to publish content that weakens or distorts the leadership of, for example, the Chinese Communist Party. China has a strict censorship system that means content that Beijing doesn’t like is removed from the internet.
Also, influencers are not allowed to use so-called deep fake technology to mess with party or state leaders. This technology uses artificial intelligence to distort faces and can be used to insert the face of a politician or leader into a video they weren’t in.
Livestreamers should also not display excessive food waste, lots of luxury goods or extravagant lifestyles, and content should not be sexually suggestive or provocative.