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China wants online influencers to be “qualified” on certain topics: What is it about?

Beijing’s new rules are aimed at influencers in certain domains like finance law, health, etc. as part of a larger policy on controlling internet content

What’s happening? Social media influencers in China must now have a qualification to talk about certain topics such as education, finance law and medicine, government regulators stated on June 21, as per agency reports. The latest rules from the two Chinese government agencies lay out a “code of conduct” for online influencers. What do the regulations say? For content that requires a “higher professional level,” live streamers must hold a corresponding qualification to talk about those subjects, China’s State Administration of Radio and Television and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism said in an 18-point jointly released guideline. However, the rules do not mention the qualifications that the influencers should have.  In the same order, China has also forbidden live-streamers from showing an exorbitant lifestyle on social media. They have been barred from displaying luxury products such as cars, clothes, phones, bags etc. Why does it matter? Social media influencers across the globe remain pretty much unchecked in regards to what they are advertising or promoting. An easy example of this freedom is the promotion of unverified health supplement products, which caused a furore a couple of years ago. Globally, influencer marketing has been seen as a kind of ‘covert’ advertising, so far falling under social media usage. And limiting social media usage, as we know, is a rather popular mode of censorship. Therefore, the fact that influencers have been caught in this net shouldn’t be surprising but what should worry people is that these new rules may be held up…

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