Since last week, several major Chinese social media platforms, including the Twitter-like Weibo and TikTok sister app Douyin, began to test displaying the names of commercial agencies responsible for content production on influencer accounts’ profile pages.

Why it matters: The move comes three months after platforms began displaying users’ IP locations. It is part of Chinese authorities’ declared aim of building a “healthy online environment.” 

Details: Douyin began displaying details of multi-channel network (MCN) on influencers’ profile pages on July 21. Weibo made the same move on Monday, showing the name of MCN responsible for commercial content. MCNs are third-party organizations that provide assistance and production services for online content creators and are a booming part of China’s digital economy. 

  • In June, Douyin released a note saying that the platform would display the names of MCN agencies on the profile page of any affiliated accounts, according to an article posted on 36Kr on July 22. This week, Android users with the latest version of Douyin will also see this feature.
  • A Weibo influencer first reported that the platform will display MCN information on profiles on July 23. Weibo officially rolled out this feature on Monday.
  • Neither Douyin owner ByteDance nor Weibo responded to TechNode’s inquiries regarding this issue.

Context: The MCN market in China recorded revenue of RMB 33.5 billion ($4.96 billion) in 2021 and is predicted to exceed RMB 54.5 billion in 2023, according to iiMedia Research.

  • There were over 30,000 MCN agencies in China last year, with that figure set to reach 40,000 in 2022, according to data from iiMedia Research. An analyst from the agency attributed such growth to the rise of the country’s influencer economy in a report.
  • On March 17, the State Council Information Office of China announced that regulating online content would form a major part of its work in 2022, naming the review of multi-channel network operations as a key area of its focus.
  • Zhang Yongjun, head of a government department under the Cyberspace Administration of China, said at a conference in March that platforms “should publicize lists of MCNs and their client accounts in an appropriate way, and display the MCN name on account profiles.”

Ward Zhou

Ward Zhou is a tech reporter based in Shanghai. He covers stories about industry of digital content, hardware, and anything geek. Reach him via ward.zhou[a]technode.com or Twitter @zhounanyu.