China’s internet regulator has demanded stricter controls over the popular practice of live streaming, as part of a range of new requirements for sites.
As well as asking sites to step up control of live broadcasts, the Cyberspace Administration of China wants the content monitored full-time.
It is the latest move by authorities to clamp down on what it sees as “inappropriate” content online.
Live streaming is particularly popular among Chinese youth.
There are an an estimated 80 platforms in use around the country, with some gaining notoriety for hosting live broadcasts of stunts that have gone viral.
The People’s Daily reported that the CAC statement asked sites to “strengthen security evaluation of new products like live broadcast”. It also said the the new requirements would apply to “bullet-screens” – where online user comments pop-up on top of live videos.
It is just one of a range of new requirements placed on websites to better regulate themselves, including putting the onus on them to set up 24-hour monitoring of their online content.
In April, the Ministry of Culture announced it was investigating a number of popular live-streaming platforms for allegedly hosting pornographic or violent content that “harms social morality”.
It was also the month one of China’s biggest internet stars, comedian and vlogger, Papi Jiang promised to “correct” herself, after warnings from government officials over her foul language.
Live streaming platforms like Bilibili, YY, Inke or Douyu are attracting millions of viewers.
The content is monetized by allowing viewers to purchase virtual gifts for real money and send them to the host of any stream they particularly like. The revenue coming in from those gifts is then shared between the host and the streaming site.
Some of China’s streaming stars:
One of China’s biggest live streaming stars is Xia Keke, a 22-year old woman, who by chatting, singing and dancing has reportedly managed to earn more than $700,000 last year.
Liu Xini is another example, making money both from getting virtual presents during her live streams and her own clothing and lifestyle brand that she promotes during those streams.
The most recent example of a stream gone viral was when Olympic swimmer Fu Yuanhui did a one hour broadcast attracting more than 11 million views and almost $50,000 worth of virtual gifts. Fu had become an overnight social media sensation thanks to her frank post-race interviews and exaggerated expressions at the Rio games.
In May, Chinese authorities reportedly banned people filming themselves eating bananas in a “seductive” fashion.
Hosts were also banned from wearing stockings and suspenders during their streaming sessions.
Chinese media also report of some users filming themselves having sex or women appearing topless during their live streams.
China’s tech giants including messaging and gaming company Tencent, mobile company Xiaomi and micro-blogging giant Sina, among others, all have video streaming sites.