Sunday, June 23, 2024

Chinese social media companies remove posts ‘showing off wealth and worshipping money’

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Chinese social media companies have launched a new crackdown on user content, targeting posts that show off personal wealth and financial extravagance.

In a statement posted online on Wednesday, Weibo said it had spent this month carrying out special management work on “undesirable value-orientated content”, including content “showing off wealth and worshipping money”.

The statement said it had targeted posts showing off luxury cars and expensive properties. Posts seen as bragging about wealth and the freedom that comes with being rich were also removed.

Other social media companies, including Tencent, Douyin and Xiaohongshu, posted similar statements.

The crackdown is a part of China’s campaign to create a “social-ecological environment that is civilised, healthy and harmonious”, Weibo’s statement said. It encouraged users to instead create or share high-quality, truthful and positive value-oriented content on the platform, to further create “a good community atmosphere of upward mobility and goodness”.

Douyin said it had removed 4,701 messages and 11 accounts from 1 to 7 May. Xiaohongshu said it had cleaned up 4,273 “illegal” posts in the past two weeks and closed 383 accounts, and Weibo said it had removed more than 1,100 pieces of content, according to Chinese media outlet, The Cover.

The stricter approach appears to be part of the Chinese authorities’ nationwide campaign to “purify the internet cultural environment”, which began in 2016.

Despite the Chinese Communist party’s efforts to achieve a “common prosperity”, the gap between the rich and the poor is increasing.

Data released from China’s National Bureau of Statistics showed the 2023 income gap in Beijing has reached its greatest value since data collection began in 1985. The share of China’s national income earned by the top 10% of the population has increased from 27% in 1978 to 41% in 2015, nearing the US’s 45% and surpassing France’s 32%, according to the Stanford Center on China’s Economy and Institutions.

Policies and crackdowns on social behaviour that the ruling Chinese Communist party has deemed unacceptable have also been seen offline.

In September 2023 Beijing amended laws to prohibit the comments, clothing and symbols that “hurt national sentiments”. In 2022, sports administrators said they would ban new tattoos for national football team members, and advised those with them already to have them removed or cover them up.

In August 2020 the Chinese government launched “Operation empty plate”, a campaign to stop food and beverage waste and cultivate frugality. And in 2018 the government called for “comprehensive reform” of the wedding industry to end to “vulgar wedding practices” like expensive wedding gifts, lavish ceremonies and demands for increasingly high bride prices.

In 2022 the Chinese National Radio and Television Administration attracted controversy when it said it was determined to crack down on the plastic surgery and “sissy” aesthetic on TV.

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