Update, Monday 16 April: As we reported a couple of days ago (see below), Sina Weibo announced late last week that it was going to be initiating a three-month “clean up operation” as part of the current movement to purge “vulgar” content from across the Chinese internet. The post sparked outrage among many users of the platform thanks to its inclusion of “homosexual content” as an area of focus, and dissent spread quickly across Weibo and other social media such as WeChat, along with messages of support for LGBTQ rights.
But today, the company appears to have backed down, issuing a statement that says: “This games and animation clean up operation will not target homosexual content, and will focus on vulgar and violent content. Thank you everyone for your comments and suggestions.”
Our original post:
Microblogging service Sina Weibo has become the latest high profile site in China to announce a “content clean-up” following pressure on popular apps such as news service Jinri Toutiao and video streaming hubs Douyin and Kuaishou.
On the evening of Friday 13th April, Weibo’s official Community Manager account posted a message that stated “in accordance with Online Security Regulations” the platform would be launching a three month-long “clean up operation” taking particular aim at “cartoons, games, and related short videos and picture/text posts.”
The post then listed specific types of content that would form the main focus of the operation. The first of these made explicit reference to “homosexual content”, lumping it together with “gory violence” and “pornographic” videos, cartoons, texts, and images as something to be targeted.
The second of these took aim at “violent games”, highlighting Grand Theft Auto-related content and accounts in particular and stating that 108 accounts and 62 topics in this subject area had already been shuttered.
The post has been widely forwarded and has over 26,000 comments, but it appears that viewing these comments has been disabled.
The move seems to be part of a wider “clean up” operation taking place on the Chinese internet:
Apps Removed, Teen Livestreamers Banned in Latest Push to Filter “Vulgar” Content
In response, numerous Weibo users have taken to posting pro-LGBTQ messages, in particular using the hashtag 我是同性恋 (“I’m Gay”). Many describe emotional responses to seeing the Weibo announcement and plead for everyone to have the right to love who they want. Some users have simply taken to posting rainbow emojis or images such as the below cartoon, featuring two young boys holding hands in a darkened cinema and one wishing they could continue do so after the movie has finished:
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