China bans influencers from talking about laws and medicines

A live streamer sells products at a JD outsourcing live streaming company in Beijing, China, on November 9, 2021.

A live streamer sells products at a JD outsourcing live streaming company in Beijing, China, on November 9, 2021.
PhotoJade Gao / AFPGetty Images

The Chinese government released a long list of new guidelines for internet livestreamers and so-called influencers this week, according to a new report from the Chinese government. South China Morning Mail and rules posted online† The new rules prohibit influencers from talking about topics like law, medicine and finance unless they Internet personalities have some sort of qualifications. What “qualifications” are considered acceptable? That part is not specified, as the Post points out.

The draconian new rules, 31 in all, include the need to set the “right tone in political orientation” and “actively embody core socialist values,” according to Chinese state media. Xinhua† And while streamers are not allowed to criticize Chinese-style communism, streamers are also prohibited from criticizing free-market reforms that have caused the Chinese economy to stray from communist orthodoxy in recent decades.

Using deepfakes or displaying an “extravagant lifestyle” will reportedly also get you in trouble with China’s 50,000-deep internet police who monitor the internet for something unwanted. How do the new rules define an extravagant lifestyle? Luxury product and excess amounts of cash seem to fit the bill. Livestreamers are also not allowed to “belittle small, low-income groups to show off their wealth”.

The new guidelines also prohibit “excessive food waste”, something the Chinese government has really tried to act on recent years† With 1.4 billion people and a generous, welcoming food culture in China (unlike those stingy sweden), food waste can become a real problem.

Two government agencies have jointly issued the new rules, according to Xinhua, including China’s National Radio and Television Administration, as well as the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. The rules apply not only to “artists who provide webcast, video and audio services over the Internet,” but also to any version of artificial intelligence that delivers news, the report said.

Beware robots. China’s censorship regime is coming for you too.

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