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Bye-bye Child Tiktokers, China Bans Under-16 Livestreamers

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China has officially banned livestreaming for those who are younger than 16 years old in a bid to address concerns about the mental and physical health of minors, according to the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC).

According to a document published yesterday by the agency, youth under the age of 16 are prohibited from participating in live broadcasts across all video and streaming platforms.

The new policy also outlines regulations on underage online celebrities, stating that “kid-influencer marketing stunts will be severely prosecuted.”

The announcement quickly became a trending subject on the Chinese microblogging platform Weibo and drew the attention of China’s major news outlets.

While social media discussion indicates that many people believe the mandate to be an entirely novel concept, the CAC actually created very similar rules in late April, which took effect on May 25 and forbid young people under 16 from livestreaming.

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The hashtag #Teenagers under 16 are banned from live streaming# had been viewed more than 260 million times on Weibo as of 3 PM on July 21. It was among the top trending topics on the social media platform, along with posts related to the large-scale flooding caused by intense rainfall in China’s central Henan province.

The associated hashtag #CAC applies strict scrutiny to marketing stunts related to kid influencers# has attracted 110 million views.

Overall, public opinion seems supportive of the new rules, although several people questioned how effectively the policy would be implemented.

“Besides this, minor pop idols should also be regulated,” read the most upvoted comment under a related post, referring to China’s oft-problematic entertainment industry, which is regularly embroiled in controversy — most recently with Kris Wu’s sexual misconduct scandal.

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One user pointed out an existing loophole on the short video app Douyin (China’s TikTok), writing, “There are tons of videos of minors. The profile picture and all the content are related to children, but their parents run the accounts.”

“Will it be useful? There were policies banning minors from playing games for more than an hour and a half per day, which have not been effective at all,” wrote another netizen.

The measure is the latest move by cybersecurity authorities to tighten standards for the livestreaming industry, a process that has been going on for several years.

More oversight is not necessarily a bad thing, though, as some online personalities have gone to dangerous lengths to garner attention. In November 2020, a 16-year-old teenager from the coastal city of Ningbo was reportedly livestreaming in the middle of highways in a bid to earn more followers.

Cover image via Depositphotos

Siyuan Meng
Born and raised in Shaoxing, Siyuan lived in New York and Los Angeles prior to Shanghai. She likes going outdoors.