China: Weibo to ban gay, violent content from platform

Sina Weibo’s booth is pictured at the Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC) 2017 in Beijing, China, April 28, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

China’s Sina Weibo will remove gay and violent content, including pictures, cartoons and text posts, during a three-month clean-up campaign, the microblogging platform said.

Friday’s announcement comes amid a clampdown targeting content across social media platforms, as China’s leaders look to tighten their grip on a huge and diverse cultural scene popular with the young.

Weibo announced the move on its official administrator’s account, saying the action aimed to comply with China’s new cyber-security law, which calls for strict data surveillance.

The post drew more than 24,000 comments, was forwarded more than 110,000 times, and prompted users to protest against the decision, using the hashtag “I am gay”.

“I am gay and I’m proud, even if I get taken down there are tens of millions like me!,” said one poster, who used the handle “rou wan xiong xiong xiong xiong” and posted a photo of himself.

Some posts were quickly blocked by the platform, with the message displayed that they contained “illegal content”.

This week, news and online content portal, Toutiao, which is luring investors, was forced to pull a joke sharing app, after a watchdog denounced its “vulgar and improper content”.

Award-winning gay romance, “Call Me By Your Name”, was also dropped from a Chinese film festival last month. Homosexuality is not illegal in China, but activists say the conservative attitudes of some parts of society have prompted occasional government clampdowns.

Weibo has so far cleared 56,243 pieces of content, shut 108 user accounts, and removed 62 topics considered to have violated its standards, it added.

-Brenda Goh, Reuters

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