Action stepped up to curb improper pursuit of pop stars

By CAO YIN | China Daily | Updated: 2021-08-10 07:36
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Some fans use stepladders to photograph a celebrity in Jinan, Shandong province, in April. WANG JIAN/FOR CHINA DAILY

Initial success

In June, the Cyberspace Administration of China launched a nationwide campaign against irrational or improper behavior in following celebrities and also to "purify" the online environment.

Zhang Yongjun, head of the administration's network comprehensive management, said it had made the control of star-chasing behavior online a priority this year, "as irregularities such as irrational voting rules and funding represent not only unrestrained pursuit of idols by fans, but also the connivance of internet platforms".

He said he understood why fans chased stars, but added that pursuing them without a "bottom line" is a problem.

Zhang said online platforms that indulge irrational activities and refuse to correct their behavior despite repeated criticism should be harshly punished.

On Aug 2, the administration said the ongoing campaign had made progress, with the removal of more than 150,000 items of harmful information and over 1,300 online chat groups for inciting netizens to follow stars irrationally.

More than 4,000 online accounts and 814 online topics that purportedly misled people into supporting stars improperly have also been closed, it said, adding that 39 mini programs suspected of either improperly raising funds or attracting online views had been shut down.

Since the campaign began, several internet platforms have said they support it and have started to clean up improper behavior.

For example, Sina Weibo has banned the use of words such as "gossip" or "onlooker" in users' nicknames when they register web accounts, and has also strengthened supervision of posts involving entertainment idols. The platform regularly publishes reports exposing accounts that ignore its rules, and publicly announces the measures it will take to keep order online.

In a report published last week, the platform said that since May it had cleaned up nearly 20,000 posts in which fans supported idols by arguing with each other. It deleted 2,642 web accounts, 2,503 topics and 922 chat groups due to irrational activities.

It pledged to further inspect and remove "star-chasing misconduct "and called for users to follow celebrities and take part in related online discussions in a civilized manner.

The Cyberspace Administration of China also urged internet platforms, including Sina Weibo, to upgrade their services and products to prevent those under 18 from supporting idols irrationally, adding that it is looking into setting up a long-term mechanism to regulate such online behavior.

On Friday, Sina Weibo said it had decided to remove its ranking list of celebrities before upgrading its service, as some fan groups use the platform to irrationally support idols. The ranking list was established in 2014, with the aim of showing how popular and influential a star was.

The platform said it would invite a third party to comprehensively evaluate the influence of stars in order to prevent fans irrationally chasing them by raising money or controlling online posts. It also said it would encourage stars to take part in public welfare.

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