Shamanic Rituals and Shaking Shoes: Here’s What Censors Are Looking For on China’s Short Video Apps

Article originally appeared in RADII

The multi-faceted Chinese censorship machinery has been on a major internet sweep for a little while now — plenty of background on that here — yet one of the more contentious areas of focus has been online video content, due in part to the authorities’ vagueness in past public statements.

But now, thanks to a document recently published by the China Netcasting Services Association (CNSA) — a nationwide professional organization comprised of satellite stations, major media such as Renmin Net and Xinhua Net, internet companies including AlibabaTencent and Baidu, video sharing platforms YoukuiQIYIand Bilibili, and a host of film and television production companies — we have more of an idea about the form and categories of content that the government wishes to keep off of China’s rapidly multiplying short video platforms.

So are China’s content producers, consumers, and platforms any better off for this knowledge? And what are some of the things censors are getting twitchy about on the Chinese internet?

On January 9, the CNSA published two documents spelling out the new standards: one entitled Regulatory Criteria for Internet Short Video Platform, and another called Censoring Criteria for Internet Short Video Content. The latter includes 100 conditions for short video publishing grouped into 21 categories.

Some of the conditions are not especially surprising, such as bans on content related to terrorism, violence, gambling, and pornography. Others are more political but again not exactly a surprise in the current Chinese climate. For example, one is not allowed “to mock, satirize, oppose, or dispose of the method, theory, system, major principles, or policies of Socialism with Chinese characteristics.” But it’s not just the Chinese elite, political leaders of other countries are protected as well: it is not permitted under the new guidelines “to derogate or spoof leaders of other countries, [as this] might cause international disputes or bad international influence.”

Other stipulations are a little less obvious. Continue to read the article here.