China livestreamers need qualifications for specific issues: regulators

Chinese regulators have been attempting to clean up the country’s popular live streaming industry. This includes rules about what online influencers can and cannot say, and what topics are taboo.

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Online influencers in China are now required to have a qualification to speak on certain topics, such as law and medicine, regulators said on Tuesday.

For content that requires a “higher professional level,” live streamers must have appropriate qualifications to speak on those topics, China’s State Administration of Radio and Television and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism said in a joint press release.

Influencers must show these qualifications to the live streaming platform they use. These qualifications must then be verified by the platform.

The latest rules continue Beijing’s efforts to clean up its wildly popular live-streaming sector, which has stakes in some of China’s biggest companies from Tencent and Alibaba to TikTok-owner ByteDance. Influencers often use such platforms to sell products and can generate billions in sales in a matter of hours.

Over the past 16 months, China has enacted new regulations in various areas of the tech sector in a bid to control the power of its once free-running tech giants. There has also been a push for greater control over areas Beijing sees as influencing society, including video games, live streaming and celebrity culture.

Last month, Chinese regulators banned children under the age of 16 from watching livestream content and buying virtual gifts for influencers after 10pm.

The latest rules from the two Chinese government agencies establish a “code of conduct” for online influencers.

For example, live streamers are not allowed to publish content that weakens or distorts the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party. China has a strict censorship system, which means content Beijing doesn’t like is removed from the internet.

Influencers are also not allowed to use so-called deep fake technology to manipulate party or state leaders. This technology uses artificial intelligence to distort faces and could be used to insert a politician’s or leader’s face into a video that didn’t feature them.

Live streamers should also not show excessive food waste, high luxury goods or extravagant lifestyles, and the content should not be sexually suggestive or provocative.

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