Popular Chinese social media platform had targeted content that it deemed ‘illegal’ including ‘videos with pornographic implications, promoting violence or (related to) homosexuality’.
Sina Weibo, one of China’s most popular social media sites, stated that the new guidelines were solely put in place to “create a bright and harmonious community environment”.
However within hours of the announcement last week, Weibo, found itself climbing down from its new ‘clean’ stance after an online public backlash gathered unprecedented online support. Weibo has a reported 400 million active monthly users.
Shared more than 100,000 times
Within hours, the announcement had been read millions of times and shared more than 100,000 times. Users then began protesting the censorship of material depicting homosexuality, inundating the site with posts containing the equivalent of Twitter’s hashtags “#IamGay” and “#IamGayNotaPervert.”
But before being forced to reverse its decision, Weibo administrators appeared to begin removing the hashtags, deleting many of the 150,000-plus comments related to them, and trying to ban users.
The decision by Weibo has been seen a rare win for China’s Gay and trans-gender community. China decriminalized homosexuality in 1997, and withdrew it from its list of mental illnesses in 2001. Same-sex marriage however remains illegal. A court in Hunan refused to grant two men the right to marry in 2016. It was the first case of its kind in the Communist country. That same year China’s government censors banned gay characters on television, with guidelines decreeing: “No television drama shall show abnormal sexual relationships and behaviors, such as incest, same-sex relationships, sexual perversion, sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual violence, and so on”.
In an update on Sunday, Weibo said the “clean-up” would “no longer target gay content”, but that Weibo censors would continue to focus “pornographic and violent material”.