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China Digital

The Disappearing Emoji on Weibo in Light of June 4

No candle or cake emoji on Weibo on June 4th.

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This week marks the anniversary of the Tiananmen student protests which started in April 1989 and ended with the violent crackdown on June 4th of that year.

It is the time of the year that censorship on Chinese social media intensifies, which is noticeable in various ways.

One noteworthy change is the disappearance of various Weibo emoji. Already in 2012, China Digital Times reported that the Sina Weibo platform quietly removed the candle icon from its collection of “frequently used emoticons” just before June 4. A year later, Shanghaiist also reported that the candle emoji had once again been removed, making the disappearing emoji a questionable annual Weibo tradition.

On Twitter, BBC reporter Kerry Allen (@kerrya11en) posted earlier that usually at this of year, it is not just the candle that disappears from Weibo’s list of emoji, but also the leaf, the cake, the ribbon, and the present.

A screenshot taken by What’s on Weibo on June 1st of this year showed that all emoji were still available.

But on June 3rd, three emoji had disappeared from the list, including the falling leaf (风吹叶落), candle (蜡烛), and cake (生日蛋糕).

Screenshot June 1 2021 (left) versus June 3 2021 (right).

The disappearance of the emoji means that Weibo posts that were previously made by official media using these emoji also no longer contain them – instead, only the emoji description shows up.

To circumvent censorship, social media users in China often use emoji, creative language, or images to get their message across. To keep discussions on the violent events of June 4 contained, online censors also crack down on sensitive words, numbers, photographs, and symbols.

At this time, the term ‘Tiananmen’ has not been banned on Weibo, but the only posts using the term are official ones about another anniversary, namely that of the Communist Party. The Communist Party of China will mark its 100th anniversary in July.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Arts & Entertainment

China Association of Performing Arts Issues Online Influencer ‘Warning List’ with 88 Names

China’s canceled celebrities won’t be able to turn to live streaming once they’re on this black list.

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On November 23rd, the China Association of Performing Arts issued a so-called “warning list” of 88 names of internet personalities who have been reported and registered for their bad behavior. The people on the list have either violated the law or their actions have allegedly negatively impacted society and public order.

The moral responsibility of Chinese idols became a much-discussed topic earlier this year when various celebrities came under fire for sexual misconduct, tax evasion, or other controversies.

Chinese celebrities Wu Yifan (吴亦凡, aka Kris Wu), Zheng Shuang (郑爽), and Zhang Zhehan (张哲瀚) are also on the current version of the list. They previously made headlines in China; Chinese-Canadian pop star Wu Yifan was detained over rape allegations, actress Zheng Shuang was caught up in a surrogacy scandal and was fined $46 million for tax evasion, and actor Zhang Zhehan caused controversy over photos of him posing at historically sensitive places in Japan.

Wu Yifan, Zheng Shuang, and Zhang Zhehan.

This is the ninth list issued by the live streaming branch of the China Association of Performing Arts, which first started its “blacklist management system” (“黑名单”管理制度) in February of 2018.

According to an interview by People’s Daily with a spokesperson of the association, they further revised the management system in 2020 and then formed the so-called “Management Measures for the Warning and Return of Online Hosts” (网络主播警示与复出管理办法).

This year, Chinese (online) entertainers have faced tighter scrutiny since China’s Propaganda Department and other authorities have placed more importance on their societal influence as role models.

Although the list issued by the Association’s livestreaming branch focuses on online presenters and bloggers, it also includes other performers who already had a bad record. Chinese celebrities who have faced controversy will sometimes switch from acting or singing to the live streaming industry in order to generate an income. The new measures make it more difficult for ‘canceled celebrities‘ to make a comeback as a live streamer.

This also means we won’t be seeing Zhang Zhehan, Kris Wu, or Zheng Shuang on live streaming channels any time soon, as their inclusion on the list has basically banned them from the industry.

Since 2018, a total of 446 online celebrities/streamers have been put on one of these blacklists.

The topic became top-trending on Sina Weibo on Tuesday, where one hashtag page about the list received over 180 million views, and another one – specifically referring to Wu, Zheng, and Zhang being shut out from the industry – receiving over 630 million clicks (#吴亦凡郑爽张哲瀚被封禁#).

Many commenters wondered about why some names weren’t on the list, such as Chen Lingtao (@Cloud_陈令韬), who recently came under fire for cheating. “Of all the 88 people on the list, there are 85 I don’t know,” one commenter said.

Besides the three biggest celebrities, there are also names on the current list such as Tik Tok (Douyin) celebrity Tie Shankao (铁山靠) or online streamer ‘Teacher Guo’ (郭老师). Guo was popular on Tik Tok (Douyin) for rejecting standard beauty norms.

Guo Laoshi (image via Jing Daily).

Guo was removed from Chinese social media in September of this year during the major crackdown on Chinese celebrity circles. Now that she is included on the list together with 87 others, her return to the livestreaming industry is very unlikely.

Update: Read Li Xuezheng Defies Online Celebrity ‘Blacklist,’ Says He’ll Help Zhang Zhehan File Lawsuit

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Digital

Key Players, Digital Trends & Deep Dives: China Internet Report 2021

SCMP just launched its latest China Internet Report. (And What’s on Weibo readers can get a 30% discount on the Pro Edition!)

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As China’s tech sector has been facing an ongoing crackdown by Beijing regulations, a lot has been changing in the country’s digital environment over the past year. The new China Internet Report 2021 by SCMP gives an overview of the latest trends and developments.

When it comes to China’s online landscape, nothing ever stays the same. Over the past year, political, economic, and social developments and measures have once again changed the Chinese digital environment.

Giving a comprehensive overview of the key leaders and major trends dominating the Chinese online field, South China Morning Post (SCMP) issued its fourth annual China Internet Report.

China’s internet population has now risen to 989 million – last year’s report indicated an internet population of 904 million. By now, there are 853 million mobile payment users, which indicates that over 86% of the entire mobile internet population uses mobile as a way to pay.

As China’s internet population is still growing, and new online startups are still popping up every day, there have been tightening regulations on multiple fronts.

As laid out in SCMP’s report, regulations mainly focus on the four areas of antitrust, finance, cybersecurity, and data privacy. Regulatory actions targeting the monopolistic behaviours of China’s biggest internet companies are still ongoing, and the new Data Security Law came into effect on September 1st of this year.

While Chinese tech companies are seeing increased scrutiny at home, they have also been facing intensifying geopolitical tensions between China and other countries. Over the past year, the various probes and shutdowns into Chinese companies by countries such as the US and India have meant a serious blow to the market share of Chinese apps.

Meanwhile, the SCMP report highlights the trend of various older and newer Chinese (e-commerce) apps “downplaying” their Chinese origins when entering foreign markets. Shein is a good example of this development, but other players including Zaful, Urbanic, and Cider are also experiencing more success outside of China while not explicitly marketing themselves as Chinese e-commerce apps.

Another noteworthy trend explained in the new report is how China’s shifting demographics are creating new niche segments to compete over. The COVID-19 crisis is partially a reason why China has seen an increase in senior internet users, with an increasing number of online products and content catering to the elderly.

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) even issued special guidelines earlier this year for web pages and mobile apps to carry out so-called “elderly friendliness modifications.” Since this user group is still expected to see significant growth, the “silver economy” is an area that will only become more important in the years to come.

To check out all the main trends for 2021, China’s latest internet statistics, its top tech competitors, internet companies, and more, here’s a link to the free report.

The free report is 55 pages long and gives an overview of China’s latest internet numbers and players, covers the top cross-sector trends for 2021, including the tightening regulations and the bumpy road ahead for China’s tech IPOs.

The Pro Edition of China’s Internet Report 2021, also launched by SCMP, is 138 pages long and provides a deep-dive into ten relevant sectors – featuring insightful and useful analysis, data, and case studies relating to China’s e-commerce market, content & media, gaming, blockchain, fintech, online education, healthtech, smart cars, 5G, and Artificial Intelligence.

The China Internet Report Pro Edition is priced at US$400, but the team at SCMP has kindly reached out and made it possible for us to offer a special 30% discount to What’s on Weibo readers.

You’ll get the discount by using the discount code: WHATSONWEIBO30, or by clicking this link that will automatically include your discount code.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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