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China says influencer management organizations will be tightly regulated

Last Updated on 2022/03/17

As part of a 10-point “clean cyberspace” strategy released by the sector regulator on Thursday (Mar 17), China will “rectify” firms that manage social media influencers.

According to Sheng Ronghua, deputy head of China’s Cyberspace Administration, the effort will focus on correcting multi-channel network (MCN) agencies, short videos, live-streaming, and cracking down on online falsehoods (CAC).

The CAC’s growing concern with the companies behind most of the viral content found on Chinese social media is reflected in the inclusion of MCN agencies in the clean-up drive.

According to iiMedia Research, there will be over 28,000 MCN agencies in China by 2020, which handle several internet influencers.

In recent months, these individuals and their firms have been subjected to intense scrutiny on problems such as tax cheating.

Viya, whose actual name is Huang Wei, was fined 1.34 billion yuan (US$211.1 million) in December 2018 for concealing personal income and other offenses in the years 2019 and 2020.

According to Zhang Yongjun, a CAC official, MCN businesses are behind 40% of all accounts with over 10 million followers on China’s key social media platforms. Future regulatory actions would target MCN firms whose influencers generate information deemed damaging to society.

“While there is a strong link between online turmoil and website platform management, there is also a strong link between MCN agencies.”

“They are even the originators of some chaos,” Zhang continued, adding that some agencies, among other things, incited social media users to fight, produced soft pornographic material, hyped-up entertainment material, and promoted “wrong values” in a variety of fields.

Zhang then detailed additional measures aimed at these companies, including stiffer penalties, a prohibition on cultivating kid influencers, and the mass broadcasting of homogeneous information online.

The regulator also ordered that influencers’ MCN agencies be prominently posted on their profiles and stated it would create up a specialist reporting channel for social media users to “supervise” these organizations. According to the regulator, 1.34 billion accounts, 22 million pieces of online material, and over 7,200 live streams and websites were eliminated as a consequence of 15 “special operations” initiated by the CAC last year in order to construct cyberspace that embodies China’s socialist principles.

CAC also performed audits on the algorithms of over 300 Internet companies, news organizations, e-commerce platforms, and video platforms in 2021, calling the encounter a “learning experience” that created the “foundations” for more regulatory actions this year.


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