China instructs short-video apps to vet all content, adopt ‘strong political sense’

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Chinese authorities have published a list of rules for short-video creators and platforms, requiring apps to set up review teams with a “strong political sense” and vet all videos before they are published.

The China Netcasting Services Association (CNSA) released the detailed guidelines on Wednesday. The national industry association is governed by the country’s National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA) and oversees member organizations including national broadcaster CCTV and state-run press agency Xinhua Net.

The rules detail a total of 100 categories of non-compliant content, including that related to rallying against national policies and threatening social stability. Videos of a sexual or violent nature are also be forbidden.

Platforms are also expected to adopt new technologies such as facial recognition to promote real-name verification of their users. Video creators who disobey the rules should be banned from uploading for periods of one year, three years, and in worst the case, a lifetime, the rules said.

The review process doesn’t only apply to the videos themselves, but all related content within the apps, including comments and video titles.

The NRTA will provide training to all reviewers. It added that the number of reviewers hired should always “meet demand” as short videos proliferate.

A Tencent spokesperson told TechNode that the rules will boost the “healthy and orderly long-term development” of the short-video industry. The company said it will comply with rules and regulations as it always had.

The Chinese internet giant launched short-video app Weishi in 2013. It led a $350 million investment in video-sharing platform Kuaishou in March last year, followed by another $400 million investment in April, Chinese media reported. Tencent has released more than 10 video apps, targeting Bytedance’s short video business.

Bytedance was not immediately available to comment on the rules.

Chinese video platforms are locked in an intense battle for users’ attention amid increased government scrutiny. In July 2018, Bytedance-owned short-video app Douyin removed nearly 28,000 videos and permanently blocked more than 33,000 user accounts. The clean-up campaign targeted pornography, rumors, and copyright infringements.