The Cyberspace Administration of China recently penalized popular short video applications Kuaishou and Huoshan, requiring them to overhaul practices. The two platforms announced measures to ban children and teenagers under 18 from registering as live-streamers and to shut down all existing accounts owned by minors.
According to a research report in 2016 by the analytics platform Weibo Data Center, 12 percent of live-streamers in China were aged between 11 and 16. As early as April of that year, over 20 Internet companies jointly published a self-discipline pact vowing not to allow minors to register as live-streamers. Real-name registration of all accounts should have been completed by June 1, 2016. However, the pact has not achieved its expected results.
The recent overhaul was prompted by China Central Television reports exposing underage live-streamers broadcasting themselves falling in love, getting pregnant and giving birth. Live-streaming platforms harbor clear commercial purposes to attract an audience for profit, even when some practices challenge moral standards and the law.
An effective system should be established to monitor the live-streaming sector.
First, minors should be banned from opening live-streaming accounts, but could be allowed to host certain programs with the consent of their parents. Internet platforms should guarantee that the content of webcasting by minors complies with relevant laws and regulations.
Second, a rating system for webcasting programs should be established to identify programs unsuitable for minors.
(This is an edited excerpt of an article published in Beijing Youth Daily on April 9)