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China set to hammer its $30 billion livestreaming industry with new restrictions

In a nutshell: Livestreaming is big business in China. It’s an industry worth an estimated $30 billion, but authorities are getting ready to slam streamers with new regulations, including limiting the amount of money they can receive from fans and tightening restrictions on the type of content they can show.

Citing people familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reports that Chinese authorities are currently drafting the new regulations, which will cap the amount internet users can tip livestreamers. Additionally, content creators will have daily limits on how much they can receive from fans and they may see a tightening of already stringent censorship rules.

According to the state-run China Internet Network Information Center, around 70% of China’s internet users tune in to livestreaming services, bringing in an audience of more than 700 million last year. While many streamers earn commission from the products they promote, most rely on tips and virtual gifts for their income, which in some cases can reach tens of thousands of dollars every day—limiting their earning potential won’t go down well with the creators and their teams.

China has long exerted control over what its citizens see online. Its Great Firewall is designed to regulate the internet, and it has a slew of rules related to video games and what can appear in titles—blood, even green blood, is disallowed. Regulators audit online content to ensure it meets “core socialist values,” ban under 16s from livestreaming, and have limited the amount of time minors can play online games to one hour on Fridays, weekends, and holidays.

In another example of Chinese censorship, we heard last year about some of the strange activities banned on the TikTok-like WeChat Channels, including fortune-telling, shots inside nightclubs and foot massage lounges, guessing a baby’s pre-birth gender, consuming socks or instant noodles made with water left over from washing feet, and hip-shaking.

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