Dirty dancing grabs the attention of China's cyberspace regulators

Alibaba service fined as Beijing calls for online platforms to name major creators and deploy kid-mode services

China's Cyberspace Administration (CAC) has punished Alibaba-owned search engine Quark and livestreaming platform NetEase for content it deemed vulgar.

Quark was fined ¥500,000 (US$68,340) and NetEase was required to suspend updates on a channel specializing in dancing content for seven days. Both companies were required to make in-depth rectifications and hold relevant persons accountable.

According to the CAC, Quark search results “showed a large amount of obscene and pornographic information, and recommended pornographic and vulgar keywords to users.”

Meanwhile NetEase was accused of live broadcasting accounts with vulgar words, deeds, and pornographic material as well as linking to such material on its home screen.

The fines came in the week after the regulator announced it would require platforms to do more to protect minors from questionable content, starting on January 1st 2024.

The CAC referred to minors as “internet natives” who “use the Internet to facilitate and enrich their study and life” but also “face multiple risks such as illegal and harmful information infringement, personal information leakage, Internet addiction, and cyber bullying.”

The regulations therefore required platform operators to create a kids mode, or operate windows of time during which they won't carry anything that could upset China's young.

Chinese authorities also appear to have revisited their preference for all online activity to be attributable to a real person, as on Tuesday major social media platforms - including WeChat, Doyin, Baidu, and Sina Weibo – issued statements that they would now require influencers with over 500,000 followers to use their real names.

While the move could be seen as a way to make influencers more accountable for their content, critics have issued concerns over the right to privacy. ®

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