Weibo Removes Celebrity List Amidst China Social Media Crackdown

China’s Twitter-like service Sina Weibo has removed a celebrity ranking list, after state media criticised social media for promoting “unworthy individuals”.

The move is part of a wider crackdown in the country that has affected everything from Bitcoin-mining operations to gaming companies to tech firms with overseas stock listings.

Late last week, state-owned newspaper People’s Daily ran an editorial critical of social media companies for promoting celebrities based on their popularity, saying the trend was harmful to young people.

Social media control

The article said online platforms should “strictly control idol development programmes and strengthen management of talent show programmes” by controlling reviews, voting mechanisms and comments.

The paper didn’t name any companies.

Other popular platforms in China that allow fans to interact with celebrities include Bilibili, Kuaishou and ByteDance-backed Douyin.

Weibo said it had decided to remove the “star power list”, which ranked celebrities based on the popularity of their social media posts and number of followers, in part because of the “irrational support” some fans were showing to celebrities.

“The list cannot comprehensively and objectively reflect the social influence of stars”, Weibo said in a statement, adding that it discouraged healthy interaction between stars and fans.

‘Electronic drugs’

Earlier last week Economic Information Daily, also operated by the state, criticised the addictive nature of video games, calling them “electronic drugs”.

Shares in companies such as Tencent and NetEase dropped by more than 10 percent following the remarks.

Last month Chinese authorities took action against ride-hailing firm Didi only days after its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange, causing a selloff.

The US financial regulator later tightened disclosure rules for Chinese firms looking to list shares in the country.

A May crackdown on Bitcoin-mining operations in China has led to a steep drop in the price of the cryptocurrency.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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