As part of its continuing efforts to tighten control over the entertainment industry, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has set its sights on cleaning up toxic fandom culture with its Qinglang campaign 晴朗, announcing measures it deems necessary to regulate the industry and promote a healthier online environment for impressionable young minds.
Online fan culture has without doubt grown increasingly crazy over the years. Just last week, microblogging site Weibo shut down several fan accounts after fan wars erupted between supporters of popular actors Zhao Liying and Wang Yibo all over a rumour of them working together once again. Who can forget the milk dumping incident that resulted in Youth With You 3 getting yanked off the air a couple of months back? The subsequent controversy saw show producer iQiyi (and several other streaming platforms) announcing its plans of doing away with paid voting systems amongst fans.
Officially Drawing the Line
To ensure fandoms will toe the line in the future, CAC laid out a set of guidelines for immediate compliance. These include:
(1) Strictly controlling the participation of minors in fan groups.
(2) Removal of all celebrity ranking lists. Only ranking focused on the quality of artists’ works like music, movies and television will be allowed. User engagement such as “Likes” and comments will bear less weight/importance for rankings.
(3) Requiring fans to spend money whether to “buy more votes” or unlock certain activities is now prohibited. Likewise, online ranking platforms requiring paid sign-ins from fans or renewing their membership to increase the number of sign-ins will no longer be allowed. In the case of product purchases made by fans, sales quantity and amount should not be published/ made visible to the public.
(4) Engagement in fanwars is forbidden.
(5) Dissolve fan groups engaging in kong ping 控评 or controlling the comments section where fans up vote positive comments and praises for their idols whilst keeping negative press at the bottom to maintain a positive public opinion of their favourite stars. Likewise, participating in yingyuan 应援 or any sort of fundraising for their idols are now prohibited for minors.
(6) Stricter management of artist studios and agencies. Moreover, agencies are given the additional responsibility to manage official fan groups and sites. Aside from being held accountable for the verification of these accounts, they are also tasked in cleaning up fan groups who are out of line or who violate the rules.
Following the CAC’s announcement, Weibo announced they will be yanking their Celebrity and Super Topics rankings. Likewise, ranking sites like Vlinkage, Powerstar, Datawin and Xunyi have all followed suit.
What Happens Now to YXH Accounts?
Whether the Qinglang campaign has any intentions of dealing with ying xiao hao 营销号 or YXH accounts, we’ve still to find out. However, Weibo seems to be taking the initiative when they announced they will also be targeting YXHs next as part of its clean-up campaign. Indeed, how can you hope to build a healthier online environment if marketing accounts paid to spread hate and troll a “targeted” celebrity still remains largely unregulated? Hopefully, the CAC will release further guidelines in the coming days addressing them too.