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    China’s Video Platforms Under Scrutiny Amid New Gov’t Campaign

    The monthlong drive targets fake news and inappropriate content. Accounts or platforms found in violation will face closure and penalties, says the country’s top internet watchdog.

    China’s top internet watchdog announced Tuesday a campaign aimed at addressing the growing concerns over false information and inappropriate content on domestic short video platforms. 

    The monthlong campaign also targets explicit or suggestive content disguised as study materials for college students and videos that fabricate stories for sympathy, cause panic, or use AI to create false content. 

    Accounts or platforms found in violation will face closure and penalties, with key cases being publicized as deterrents, according to the Cyberspace Administration of China.

    China’s short video industry has surged in recent years. The China Internet Network Information Center reports that as of June, the number of online short video users rose to 1.02 billion, marking an increase of 14.54 million from December 2022.

    Despite this growth, however, the industry has faced criticism for the widespread dissemination of fabricated content. Seeking higher viewership and profits, numerous content creators have also resorted to producing videos that pander to vulgar tastes or disseminate sensationalist news.

    In September, the Liangshan Public Security Bureau in the southwestern Sichuan province identified 54 individuals involved in creating short videos with fabricated narratives. These videos, which falsely claimed to assist needy farmers, were designed to elicit public sympathy and drive consumer purchases.

    Authorities have also called on short video platforms to improve their content recommendation mechanisms, shifting the focus from quantitative indicators to the quality of content. Additionally, platforms have been asked to bolster their content review systems to ensure compliance with the new standards.

    Following earlier directives, Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, announced measures in May that required content creators to clearly label AI-generated content, aiding users in differentiating between virtual and real content. 

    And in September, the microblogging platform Weibo began to trial a “side note” function similar to “community notes” on X, formerly known as Twitter, which allows certain verified users to fact-check posts. 

    In a commentary, the Jiangsu-based state-run outlet Xinhua Daily likened the spread of problematic short videos to a “soft drug” that erodes physical and mental health and impacts societal values. The commentary stressed the urgency of establishing a wholesome short video ecosystem. 

    Editor: Apurva. 

    (Header image: IC)