Short video platforms have become the Chinese government’s next target in its two year-long tech crackdown.
The National Radio and Television Administration announced its mission to protect minors from short video addiction in a notice issued on the regulatory body’s website on February 22. Details on the timing and nature of the upcoming hike in “short video management” were not provided, but the notice listed license access, high-quality supply, and algorithm management as methods that will be used to help guide minors toward healthier habits.
The tech crackdown, which has encompassed gaming, data protection, and anti-trust laws, looked as though it was drawing to a close when a large number of licenses for new game releases were issued to gaming companies in December 2022. This latest move suggests that while the crackdown has eased, it is certainly not over and may well persist in the long-term.
Concerned with the rise in youth gaming addiction, the government restricted gaming for under 18s to 3 hours a week in 2021. After the gaming restrictions were introduced, minors jumped to short video platforms Douyin, Kuaishou, and Bilibili as their main source of entertainment. Mental health, declining school performance, and poor eyesight are among the issues associated with short video addiction – concerns which are shared by parents and government officials.
Possibly anticipating the latest restrictions, several major apps have been racing to diversify their functionality over the past few months. Douyin has expanded into the e-commerce space, Xiaohongshu has upped its social networking component, and the food delivery service Meituan has introduced a short video feature. These apps are competing to become the go-to app for as many consumer needs as possible, which is a huge advantage in an uncertain tech landscape.