China's cyberspace regulator punishes accounts abusing athletes like Gu Ailing
Published: Mar 17, 2022 10:27 PM
Gu Ailing attends the women’s freeski halfpipe qualifications on Thursday. Photo; Cui Meng/GT

Gu Ailing attends the women’s freeski halfpipe qualifications on Thursday. Photo; Cui Meng/GT

China's cyberspace regulators removed more than 22 million items of illegal information and shut down over 1 billion illegal accounts in 2021 in a special campaign to clean up cyberspace environment, including the chaotic fandom culture. 

Authorities on Thursday announced ten new tasks for the campaign in 2022, with a focus on livestreaming and short video platforms. 

The special campaign, named "Qinglang Operation", was launched by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) in 2021, aiming to create a better internet ecosystem in China.

A total of 15 special actions were taken in 2021's campaign, targeting the excessive online fandom culture, the disorder of internet account operations, and the malicious internet environment of minors.

More than 22 million items of illegal information and more than 2,160 illegal apps and mini programs were removed, about 1.34 billion illegal accounts were shut down, and more than 3,200 websites were closed in a series of actions jointly conducted by the CAC and relevant departments in 2021, said Sheng Ronghua, deputy director of the CAC, at a press conference on Thursday. 

The CAC will also establish a traceability mechanism to rumors, and it will increase punishment for platforms and accounts that publish rumors. Account holders who repeatedly publish and spread rumors will be put on a blacklist and prohibited from registering new accounts throughout the network, according to the conference.

These achievements of the campaign showcased the determination of regulators in clearing up the chaos of the internet environment, and they will serve as a deterrent to misbehavior as well as guidance for correct actions, Shi Wenxue, a film critic based in Beijing, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Ten new actions will be rolled out in 2022 during the campaign, one of which focuses on the regulation of livestreaming and short video platforms, including regulating misbehaving celebrities who return to performing illegally, incentive rewards, the infringement of minors' rights, and online fraud and other illegal activities, said Sheng. 

Topics related to the press conference soared to the top on the trending list of Chinese social media Sina Weibo, with nearly 400 million views within one hour, and discussion concentrated on the ban on misbehaving celebrities from returning to performing illegally.

Misbehaving celebrities, mainly referring to those who have engaged in illegal or immoral activities, might turn to livestreaming and short video platforms for public exposure after they are kicked out of the entertainment industry, and the regulation in the campaign indicates a thorough ban on their ability to perform, said Shi.

The Chinese entertainment industry has witnessed the downfall of several celebrities in recent years. In the latest case, Chinese actor Deng Lun was fined 106 million yuan ($16.6 million) for tax evasion and his personal accounts on social media, along with his studio's accounts, were all suspended immediately. In August 2021, top Chinese-Canadian pop idol Kris Wu Yifan was arrested on suspicion of rape. 

At the conference, officials of the CAC also noted that they took measures against online violence that attacked and insulted athletes and coaches during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, such as skier Gu Ailing and skater Zhu Yi. 

The internet environment, especially the so-called "fan circles" on social media, has a huge impact on the psychological growth of teenagers, as well as the development of the social culture in China, Shi said, stressing that it is a national campaign with efforts to be made by all netizens.