Weibo Are Clamping Down on Negative Talk About Public Affairs

The development of social media in China has been particularly interesting to observe, not only because it still lives in its own national microcosm, but because the Chinese government have a very different attitude to free speech than much of Western culture. If, for example, the American government forced Twitter to ban all negative discussions about public affairs, Facebook would outright refuse, and there would probably be an uproar.

That's exactly what the Chinese authorities have asked Weibo to do, but there has been no refusal and no uproar. The Chinese State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio Film and Television told Weibo and two smaller social networks called Afcun and Ifeng to remove any and all content which reflected negatively on public affairs.

In their official statement on the matter, Weibo said that they would be working with state media to make sure that content which promotes 'mainstream' opinion is boosted, and that any content which violated local regulations is removed, especially video content. They're also cracking down on unlicensed content and long form video content (15 minutes or more, in this case). Had Weibo not complied, the entire platform could have been shut down.

Online video content is currently exploding in China. There are thousands of vlogging celebrities across the nation, and films are being premiered online more and more often. The Chinese government is clearly well aware of this, as they introduced a new set of revised regulations at the beginning of the month, as well as ordering 60 different celebrity accounts on Weibo and other platforms to be closed.

China is currently fifth from the bottom in the world press freedom index, with most popular Western sites still kept out by the Great Firewall. Even with that in mind, it's been a long time since such strict media revisions have been enforced. Recently, there had been talk of Google actually being unblocked in China, but there's been no further news about it since the revisions were first introduced at the beginning of the month, and the company haven't commented on it.

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