Chinese authorities have sent shockwaves through the social media sphere, with a blanket ban on livestreaming across three major online platforms.
On Thursday, the government ordered Weibo, iFeng and ACFUN to stop all its video and audio streaming services, according to an FT report.
Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, and one of its largest social networks, acknowledged that it received the directive from the government, and that it’s working to figure out which users would be affected.
Weibo has some 340 million active users, and relies heavily on video streaming for revenue.
The two other sites affected, news portal iFeng and ACFUN, an online video site, are also popular.
Livestreaming stars likely impacted
Some of the country’s most famous online celebrities rely on live-streaming sessions to earn virtual gifts, which can be cashed in. The live streaming industry was worth some $9 billion in 2016, according to online tracker Statista.
Papi Jiang, dubbed by some as China’s Internet Queen, has a following of 44 million across multiple platforms — 23 million of which comes from Weibo alone.
It’s harder to censor livestreams.
It’s no secret that China has dedicated large resources to regulating content on social media. Sites like Weibo are combed automatically and manually to weed out politically sensitive sentiment and keywords.
But with livestreaming, it’s harder to regulate what home broadcasters say.
According to the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), China’s media oversight body, the three companies were “not in line with national audiovisual regulations and propagating negative speech.”
The SAPPRFT did not mention if the ban was temporary or permanent.
The livestreaming ban is just the latest in the government’s censorship efforts.
Earlier this month, authorities closed down more than 60 celebrity gossip accounts on Weibo.
In May, China announced that online media platforms could only be managed by editorial staff who have been approved by the Communist government.
China’s President Xi last year called for increased regulation of China’s internet, with the Cyberspace Administration of China (CCA) ordering huge online companies like Tencent Holdings to stop original news reporting.
Mashable has reached out to Weibo and iFeng for comment.