One of the largest social networks in China is thumbing its nose at the government. Sina Weibo, the equivalent of Twitter in China, gave up on Monday to remove content on homosexuality from its network, reports the Guardian .
The announcement follows three days of outcry for the social network. Friday, Weibo announced the removal of content related to homosexuality of its platform, as part of a three-month “clean-up campaign” to ensure a “clean and harmonious” Internet, in accordance with the will of Beijing. Among the targeted contents, “mangas and videos with pornographic implications, promoting violence, or [related to] homosexuality”, whether “love between men or fictional gay stories”.
This initiative has earned Weibo a wave of protests. On Sunday night, around 220,000 Weibo users used the #Jesuisgay hashtag to denounce yet another round of the Chinese Internet and a new signal of discrimination against the gay community. As a reminder, homosexuality was removed from the list of mental illnesses in 2001 in the country.
In order not to outrage its users further, Weibo will focus solely on eliminating violent or pornographic content. The network does not indicate whether its surrender came from the company itself or from a government directive.
Like the other popular social networks in the country, the 400 million active monthly user platform is under stronger control from the Chinese government. The Cybersecurity Law, which has been in effect since June 1, 2017, allows authorities to prosecute any person or entity that publishes information that they consider to be harmful to the regime. The text undertakes to extinguish the Internet from any deviant content of the “central values of socialism” while stifling criticism and content deemed sensitive. Beijing sees it as a means of guaranteeing national security and social stability.
Last August, the government announced the launch of an investigation against WeChat messaging, Weibo and the Baidu search engine. These three major Web players in the country were accused of violating the law by publishing “illegal content endangering national security”. Last week, news content aggregator Toutia was sanctioned for allowing its users to exchange dirty jokes and videos. In response, the service promised to increase to 10,000 the number of its censors.