Regulator expanding anti-addiction systems to video streaming platforms

2 min read
Online video streaming on mobile device. (Image Credit: BigStock/TeroVesalainen)

China’s internet regulator, the Cyber Administration of China (CAC), on Tuesday instructed 14 more short video platforms and four video streaming platforms to roll out anti-addiction systems before June 1, expanding its control over the content underage users can access.

Among the 14 short video platforms to apply the anti-addiction system are Sina’s Weibo, Bytedance’s Xigua Video, and BiliBili, though the latter two also allow videos longer than one hour. The four video streaming platforms are Tencent Video, iQiyi, Youku, and PPTV.

Once implemented, the system would limit the time underage users can spend in these apps and the content they can access. On short video platforms, users under 18 will be restricted to educational videos focusing on calligraphy, painting, history, traditional culture, and science. Video streaming platforms are to create youth-specific ecosystems highlighting TV series and movies that “promote patriotism and give publicity to heroic figures.”

In the announcement, the CAC said it will also require live-streaming platforms to incorporate anti-addiction systems in the near future.

The new rule would increase the number of platforms covered by “youth mode” to 21. Prior to the Tuesday announcement, the system has only been trialed on two Bytedance short video apps, Douyin and Huoshan Video, as well as on Kuaishou.

Tencent and iQiyi were not immediately available for comment when reached by TechNode.

According to statistics from the CAC, since the initial rollout of “youth mode,” more than 460 million short video app users have received popup notifications about the feature, and close to 53 million people have visited the feature’s detail page.

The CAC announcement emphasized the importance of using technical means to identify underage users, suggesting that the expanded coverage of the anti-addiction system is not compulsory for now. Users can evade “youth mode” restrictions in Kuaishou and Douyin by simply not turning them on.

The system could also prove to be difficult to implement on video streaming websites. While short video apps limit users without accounts to a default feed of videos and blocks other functionalities, video streaming platforms impose no such restrictions. Young users can browse any free content on Tencent Video and iQiyi, including the most recent eighth season of the “Game of Thrones.”