The list of forbidden materials is as strange as it is long.
While Twitch has lately been under fire for its position on hot tub streaming, Chinese messaging/social media/payments platform WeChat is arguably more restrictive when it comes to content censorship. It prohibits a wide range of actions, including nose picking, hip shaking, and putting underpants on your head.
As reported by the South China Morning Post, WeChat owner Tencent Holdings released guidelines for performers on WeChat Channels, its new video section designed to take on short-form-content rivals such as TikTok (known in China as Douyin).
China’s government, of course, comes down hard on anyone who broadcasts anything it finds objectionable, including leaking state secrets, insulting official heroes and martyrs, promoting what it defines as terrorism, and broadcasting news without authorization. This extends to WeChat Channels, along with “predicting a nation’s fate and government policy trends” and anything that goes against “positive social values.”
Some of the more unusual bans are fortune-telling, shots inside nightclubs and foot massage lounges, guessing a baby’s pre-birth gender, coffins, tombstones, and wearing government and police uniforms, including those from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau.
“I predict a WeChat ban is in your future”
Eating non-food objects is also banned, so no socks or quick noodles produced with water left over from washing feet, for example. Smoking, drinking, cussing, and displaying tattoos are also prohibited, as are broadcasting from a bed or participating in risky activities such as skydiving, bungee jumping, free climbing, paragliding, parachuting, or high-rise parkour. Smashing cactuses with bare hands and cooking popcorn in an aluminium can all fall into the same category, and we can all agree they aren’t safe.
When it comes to clothes, WeChat is clearly harsher than Twitch: “Female pants or skirts [should not] be more than 2cm below the belly button” and “the hem of female pants and skirts [should not] be higher than the hip line.” It’s a lot easier for males, who have two restrictions in this area: no going topless and no showing up in only underwear.
“See-through clothes, flesh-coloured tights, fishnet stockings, suspenders, triangle shorts and low-rise shorts,” are also too risqué, as is repeatedly bending over to reveal cleavage or lifting skirts, simulated sex acts, repeated squatting, seductive lip licking, chest rubbing and hip-shaking. Whether fitness enthusiasts and Elvis impersonators will be penalized is unclear.
“Vulgar pornographic games,” spanking, zooming in on certain body parts, and anything that can “cause discomfort” is not allowed, either. Wearing underpants on one’s head is given as an example of the latter, which is remarkably specific for such a broad description.
Anyone violating one of this laundry list of rules will have their account suspended or receive other punishments, which in the case of political infractions, could be a lot worse than a ban.