China state media calls for cleanup of online fan behaviour

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) – Irrational and undesirable online fan behaviour in China interferes with socio-economic and cultural order, and should be addressed and corrected, a commentary in the People’s Daily newspaper said on Tuesday (Aug 17).

“Following stars is a personal choice, but it should not cross bottom lines and boundaries,” said the commentary in the official paper of the Communist Party.

It said Chinese regulators had achieved some success in “rectifying undesirable fan culture”, closing more than 4,000 illegal social media accounts, removing more than 150,000 pieces of what it termed negative and harmful information, and closing down groups and topics of discussion.

But it added that fan groups presented a considerable challenge to governance given “intertwined chains of capital and interests” as well as “undesirable tendencies” including money-worship, noting that fan groups mostly comprise teenagers in need of positive guidance.

“The next step is to continue to strengthen regulation… and form long-term mechanisms so that those who cross bottom lines pay the price, and those who illegally pursue profits are punished,” it said.

The commentary was the latest in a string of editorials published in state media in recent weeks calling for online platforms to rein in the over-promotion of celebrities, and for crackdowns on industries such as gaming and alcohol.

Social media giant Weibo has also come under fire in the wake of a scandal involving Chinese-Canadian pop singer Kris Wu, who was detained by police amid allegations of seducing underage women. Wu has denied the accusations.

Last week, Chinese authorities arrested a top Weibo public relations executive, and the company fired him over suspected bribery.

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