Sina Weibo Hit with Video-Streaming Ban from China Regulators

Just weeks after shuttering 60 social media accounts, Chinese regulators have shut down web-casting services including live-streaming, on three popular platforms in China—Sina Weibo, news portal iFeng, and video-streaming site AcFun—for violating government standards by broadcasting negative commentary on political and social news.

The ban, which was posted on the website of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), has caused Weibo’s shares to drop and potentially shrouds the future of other major live-streaming and short video services in uncertainty.

Weibo is the most well-known of the platforms affected—the microblogging site currently boasts more than 300 million monthly active users and surpassed Twitter in market value earlier this year. The company had been making major investments in video just as live-streaming began to take off among China’s millennial mobile users and as luxury KOLs pivoted to the platform for an audio-visual supplement to WeChat marketing. In the second half of 2016, short video contributed to 10 percent of its ad revenue, which jumped 40 percent year-over-year.

State-run media organization China Daily cited the video-streaming ban was the result of a lack of licensing and a response to the screening of politically-related content “that does not conform with state rules.”

In the wake of a “comeback” set to rival WeChat’s social media marketing success story, Weibo had reportedly already been considering taking steps to regulate users who were operating as KOLs on the platform, according to China influencer marketing platform ParkLu. The alleged new rules discourage users from linking to its competitor, WeChat, and penalize links to e-commerce sites outside of Alibaba, as well as QR codes.

As far as where this might be headed, Bloomberg’s Gadfly column notes it is common that, “new businesses are allowed to flourish before having their wings clipped when they get too big or unwieldy,” but that there are, in fact, up-and-coming video-streaming platforms operating with the necessary licenses. One such platform is Momo, whose stocks were also negatively affected on Thursday morning by SAPPRFT’s announcement.

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Social Media, Tech