Celebrities, social media platforms vow clean cyberspace
Published: Nov 24, 2021 08:23 PM
Photo: Cao Siqi/GT

Photo: Cao Siqi/GT

Chinese celebrities, an Olympic champion and star athletes, as well as internet companies jointly issued an initiative, vowing to keep the cyberspace clean, fight online rumors, and speak for the public, at the China Internet Media Forum in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province on Wednesday. 

The initiative calls on media outlets and internet service providers to strengthen self-discipline of the industry and embrace society's supervision, provide true and objective content while curbing harmful and false information, and shoulder their responsibility in leading public opinion and protecting netizens' rights. 

As a representative from the entertainment industry, Chinese pop singer and actor Zhang Yixing said everyone has a voice in the internet era and how to make good use of it will have an impact - if it is well utilized, the voice will bring a clean cyberspace; if not, it will breed rumors and violence that harm the rights of netizens. 

"I had been the subject of online rumors and violence and realized that they may make the internet look bustling and enjoyable, but they will make people in the whirlpool helpless and powerless," Zhang said. 

As an internet integrity ambassador, Zhang said patriotism should be regarded as the main theme of literary and artistic creation, and the continuous creation of good works in line with the times is the foundation for celebrities. 

Wang Gaofei, CEO of Sina Weibo, said that about 81 percent of trending topics on the platform were released by official media in the first half of 2021, such as the "100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China," which peaked at views of nearly 100 billion times, and the top 50 on the list were related to the topic. 

Trending topics reflect the pulse of public opinion. When Central China's Henan Province was severely hit by floods in July, "Henan subway" and "Stay strong, Henan" were the most popular keywords on Sina Weibo. Online public opinion has also helped many more people get rescued, Wang said. 

In June 2020, China's top internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), punished Sina Weibo for "interfering with the online communication order, disseminating illegal information and other problems." The platform was required to stop updating its lists showing the most popular search terms and topics discussed on the platform for a week. The crackdown came after the platform, which has been providing the trending list since 2010, had developed a business in which some companies and celebrities scrambled to pay money for a higher place in the rankings. 

Sina Weibo will regulate content of trending topics in accordance with rules to make the list more transparent and objective, Wang said, vowing to continue to reduce entertainment content. 

Wednesday's forum, which brought together senior scholars, experts on media research, executives from mainstream media, and online celebrities with millions of followers, was the latest effort by the CAC and other central government departments to clean up the chaotic "fan circle," crack down on irrational idol worship, eradicate rumors (especially those spreading historical nihilism and defaming Chinese martyrs), and building a clean cyberspace. 

A day before the forum, the CAC said it will establish a negative list to prevent celebrity-related content from promoting distorted values, including abnormal aesthetics, scandals, and content that induces fans to blindly idolize celebrities or hypes the comeback of entertainers who have illegal and unethical records.

The China Association of Performing Arts on Tuesday published its ninth warning list for livestreaming performances covering 88 celebrities. Chinese-Canadian pop idol Kris Wu Yifan, who was arrested on rape charges, actress Zheng Shuang who was fined for tax fraud, and actor Zhang Zhehan who visited Japan's war-linked Yasukuni Shrine and went against China's public opinions, were among those on the warning list.