China bans 31 misbehaviors by livestreamers in latest effort to clean up cyberspace
Published: Jun 22, 2022 11:31 PM


China's top media and culture authorities on Wednesday jointly issued behavior norms to guide livestreamers, prohibiting 31 kinds of misbehavior including smearing Chinese culture, historic figures and national heroes, and hyping sensitive issues, in a move to promote a healthy cyberspace amid public calls for more regulation due to wrongdoings in the booming industry. 

The norms, which were published by China's National Video and Television Administration and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, include 18 articles, including 31 kinds of banned behavior. Livestreamers should not hype hot topics and sensitive issues or deliberately create "hot" public opinion, and they should not encourage users to interact in vulgar ways or incite fans to attack with rumors and commit cyberviolence. 

Smearing and distorting traditional Chinese culture, historic figures and national heroes are also activities that are banned. Some livestreamers were recently found to be defaming the honors and treasures of the country in a bid to gain more exposure.  

Some livestreamers have a weak legal consciousness, spread vulgar content, induce irrational consumption, and violate laws and regulations such as harming the mental health of minors, seriously disrupting the industry order, which should be regulated with strengthened supervision, the National Video and Television Administration told the media on Wednesday.

The norms have highlighted minors' protection in cyberspace. Livestreamers are banned from inducing minor users to give tips with false identity information, said the administration.

The norms list 31 specific banned acts, which are shown in a more detailed way than before, clearly guiding behavior during livestreaming, Zhu Wei, vice director of the Communication Law Research Center at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Zhu said the norms involve related laws and regulations applied in the livestreaming industry such as those involving minors' protection and cybersecurity. If livestreamers violate these norms, they will be punished based on related laws and regulations. 

Livestreamers should also truthfully declare their income and pay taxes according to the law, said the norms. A few famous livestreamers were found to be violating the tax rules including top livestreamer Huang Wei, nicknamed Viya, who was fined 1.34 billion yuan ($200 million) for dodging taxes in 2021. 

Following the Viya case, China's cyber, tax and market supervision authorities said in March that they will strengthen the registration and classification management of live broadcast accounts. Livestreaming platforms, service agencies and individuals should fulfill their tax obligations.

China has been making efforts to regulate the booming industry in recent years after many problems surfaced, such as "fan circle" culture in the entertainment industry, which distorts minors' values and endangers social governance. 

The norms require livestreamers to oppose the disordered "fan circle" culture and the decadent ideas of money worship. 

The guidelines also specified that for content requiring professional knowledge, such as the medical, finance and education fields, livestreamers must have professional qualifications and register with the livestreaming platforms. 

For livestreamers with serious and repeated problems, their accounts should be banned, and they should be put on a "blacklist" or "warning list", and they will not be allowed to change their accounts or platforms to livestream again. 

Livestreamers who violate laws and regulations and abandon morality, causing a bad social impact, should be regularly exposed to the public, and all platforms should be guided to boycott them. They will not be allowed to get public performance opportunities, in order to prevent them from performing again on other platforms.

The norms note that livestreamers should adhere to the correct political direction, public opinion guidance and value orientation, uphold social morality and professional ethics, and cultivate personal morality, as they have played an important role in spreading scientific and cultural knowledge and enriching spiritual and cultural life, according to the norms.