China increased its censorship of films, blogs, and educational websites last Friday with new rules that say sites failing to adhere to “core socialist values” will have to shut down, according to Reuters. That means that topics like drug addiction and homosexuality are banned.
China’s history of censoring the web dates back to the early days of the internet when the Chinese leadership initiated “the Great Firewall of China” that blocked sites that included pornography, religion, and news that portrayed China negatively. This latest approach, however, is specifically targeting video content.
Last Friday, the China Netcasting Services Association, a governmental group, announced the new internet posting regulations, stating that two auditors would be required from then on to check that all online audiovisual content adheres to “core socialist values.” Films, smaller video clips, documentaries, sports, education, and animated content will all be subject to audits. Platforms like Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter, will also be monitored more closely.
What’s not okay: religious material, insults about China, explicit violence or sexual promiscuity (including incest and masturbation), gambling, any genitalia, smoking, killing endangered animals, and foul language. Even sex-ed videos will be banned, as the rules consider them vulgar. What is okay and encouraged: patriotism, praises to the motherland, positive historical material, filial piety, and stories about helping the poor. Anyone who violates these rules will be investigated by officials and their website will be shut down.
Last month, Beijing shut down celebrity gossip websites, restricted videos that people can post, and suspended online streaming so that individuals now have to apply for a license to stream, deeming them all inappropriate content. At the very end of June, China’s department for policing media also began scoring online literature publishing sites on a 100-point scale of how well their work adhered to socialist values. Those below 60 points would be publicly criticized and banned from winning any awards.
This latest wave of censorship efforts has been the subject of much online ire, as netizens fear that the government can reach them even in the gray area of the web.