China's web censorship laws have claimed a new, apparently not-so-innocent victim: live streams of people "seductively" eating fruit. According to reports from domestic media, censors have banned broadcasts of people "seductively eating bananas" online, as part of an ongoing clampdown of the country's live-streaming sites.
Last month, China's Culture Ministry announced that it was investigating a number of these sites, including YY, Douyu, and Panda.tv. These broadcasters were charged with "allegedly providing content that contains pornography or violence and encourages viewers to break laws and harms social morality." This apparently includes eating bananas.
miniskirts and stockings are also reportedly banned
State media China Central Television News said that streamers on these sites are "predominately attractive women showing their cleavage," and that their viewership is 77 percent male. The new regulations mean sites will have to monitor broadcasts and ban infringing streamers. Revealing tops, miniskirts, and stockings have also reportedly been outlawed.
Live-streaming in China has been undergoing a boom for years, with the most popular hosts attracting millions of subscribers and hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in revenue. According to a report from the Associated Press, one of the most popular live-streaming sites, YY, reported revenues rising 60 percent last year to 5.9 billion yuan ($910 million). Just like streamers in the US and Europe, these online entertainers sing, tell jokes, or just play video games for fans.
BBC News reports that China's citizens have been confused by the arbitrary nature of the ban. "How do they decide what's provocative when eating a banana?" asked one user on Weibo, the country's Twitter-Facebook hybrid. Another reportedly added that if the ban on bananas is enforced, streamers will just "start eating cucumbers, and if that's no good, yams."