When the crackdown on video video games occurred in 2021, the social media business was positively spooked, as a result of many Chinese language individuals have been already evaluating short-video apps like Douyin to video video games by way of addictiveness. It appeared as if the sword of Damocles might drop at any time.
That risk appears much more sure now. On February 27, the Nationwide Radio and Tv Administration, China’s high authority on media manufacturing and consumption, mentioned it had convened a gathering to work on “implementing the regulation of quick movies and stopping underage customers from turning into addicted.” Information of the assembly despatched a transparent sign to Chinese language social media platforms that the federal government shouldn’t be happy with the present measures and wishes them to provide you with new ones.
What might these new measures seem like? It might imply even stricter guidelines round display screen time and content material. However the announcement additionally talked about another fascinating instructions, like requiring creators to acquire a license to supply content material for youngsters and growing methods for the federal government to control the algorithms themselves. Because the scenario develops, we should always anticipate to see extra modern measures taken in China to impose limits on Douyin and comparable platforms.
As for the US, even attending to the extent of China’s current laws round social media would require some huge modifications.
To make sure that no teenagers in China are utilizing their dad and mom’ accounts to observe or submit to Douyin, each account is linked to the person’s actual identification, and the corporate says facial recognition tech is used to watch the creation of livestream content material. Certain, these measures assist forestall teenagers from discovering workarounds, however in addition they have privateness implications for all customers, and I don’t consider everybody will determine to sacrifice these rights simply to verify they’ll management what kids get to see.
We are able to see how the management vs. privateness trade-off has beforehand performed out in China. Earlier than 2019, the gaming business had a theoretical each day play-time restrict for underage players, nevertheless it couldn’t be enforced in actual time. Now there’s a central database created for players, tied to facial recognition methods developed by huge gaming publishers like Tencent and NetEase, that may confirm everybody’s identification in seconds.
On the content material aspect of issues, Douyin’s teenager mode bans a slew of content material varieties from being proven, together with movies of pranks, “superstitions,” or “leisure venues”—locations like dance or karaoke golf equipment that youngsters should not alleged to enter. Whereas the content material is probably going chosen by ByteDance workers, social media firms in China are recurrently punished by the federal government for failing to conduct thorough censorship, and meaning selections about what’s appropriate for teenagers to observe are in the end made by the state. Even the traditional model of Douyin recurrently takes down pro-LGBTQ content material on the premise that they current “unhealthy and non-mainstream views on marriage and love.”
There’s a dangerously skinny line between content material moderation and cultural censorship. As individuals foyer for extra safety for his or her kids, we’ll need to reply some exhausting questions on what these social media limits ought to seem like—and what we’re prepared to commerce for them.