The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has been clamping down on unhealthy or improper behavior festering on the internet for the past few days. On August 27, the CAC and related factions have sent down new guidelines and measures to “ensure and uphold a safe online environment” as part of its “Qinglang” series of cleaning up the internet. Many celebrities’ Weibo accounts have been banned, super topics removed, and works removed. This resulted in several artists issuing “initiative letters” urging fans to rationally chase after celebrities.
Zanilia Zhao Liying (赵丽颖) and Wang Yibo (王一博) were two artists who were publicly called out by Weibo when their fandoms got into online shouting matches over rumors they were collaborating in a second drama. Many of Zhao Liying’s related accounts such as her studio, fan club, fan sites, and major fan accounts, were either suspended from posting or banned for inciting fan wars, trampling on other fans/artists, and organizing a collective effort to boycott.
As it’s a sensitive time in the Chinese Entertainment industry with many serious scandals happening, Zhao Liying and Wang Yibo’s official account posted initiative letters urging fans to rationally chase stars and refrain from improper behavior.
However, on August 27, where the CAC really laid down the law, Weibo’s Administrator account reported that they had called in Zhao Liying and Wang Yibo’s studios to discuss the guidance and management issues around their fans. While they didn’t outright name the two artists, it was quite obvious when they referred to the celebrities as, “Zhao Someone Someone” and “Wang Someone Someone”.
Weibo’s notice said:
“On August 27, the Weibo platform conducted a regulatory talk with the studios of celebrities, Zhao ‘Someone Someone’ and Wang ‘Someone Someone’ for the issues surrounding fan guidance and management.
The site feels that as public figures with influential power, they should be responsible for guiding and [carry out] the duty to restrain the behavior of fans. But recently, both parties’ studios weren’t able to guide and respond to their fans’ irrational behavior in a timely manner. As a result, it led to the disturbance in the order of network communications with the appearance of fans trampling, tearing each other apart, and more, which has created harmful social impacts.
The site is primarily conducting a warning and communicating the following four points with both parties’ management companies:
- Convey the requirements from the CAC’s ‘Notice regarding the next steps to strengthening the governance of chaotic ‘fan circles’
- Emphasize to supervisors of each department they must require online platforms to take management responsibility for the online behavior of celebrity management companies, fan groups, fan clubs, and more
- Require celebrities and management companies to strengthen their ability to positively guide and restrain fan groups.
- Require celebrities and management companies to take the initiative to report malicious behavior of unofficial fan organizations and irrational behavior and cooperate with the platform’s management. They must have the courage to speak up, bravely defend their rights, and definitely can’t turn a blind eye allowing the situation to fester.
Since the situation escalated, both the artists and their studios’ official Weibos published proposal letters one after the other, took the initiative to take responsibility, and immediately cooled down the irrational behavior of fan groups, which played an important role. Celebrities, Zhao ‘Someone Someone’s’ fan club quickly recognized their mistakes and severity of the situation. They took the initiative to delete the posts and expressed their apologies that day, effectively preventing the situation from spreading one step further.
This time’s regulatory talk expressed the site’s zero tolerance attitude towards extreme fans’ malicious trampling and the appearance of inciting wars and the determination to build a “clear” online environment. The aforementioned requirements aren’t just limited to both parties’ studios, but will also be issued to all celebrities’ management companies on the entire platform. In the future, the site will continue to govern the platform’s improper information with a heavy punch, revolving around the spirit of the ‘Notice’, arrange and deploy relevant work, seriously implement the requirements of the notice, and work with celebrities and their management companies together to properly guide and strictly regulate fan groups, and join hands to create a harmonious and healthy online environment.”
This wouldn’t be the first time Weibo met with celebrities to have a “regulatory talk”. After Xiao Zhan’s “227 Scandal” last year, the situation got so out of hand that Weibo had to step in and meet with Xiao Zhan’s studio to talk about the situation with irrational fan behavior. After their meeting, Weibo posted a notice that directly named Xiao Zhan’s studio for not guiding and managing adverse fan behavior, which allowed the situation to fester.