Last week, popular social media platforms such as WeChat, Douyin, Kuaishou, Xiaohongshu (RED), Bilibili and Toutiao simultaneously announced policies to display the real names of influencers with 500,000 or more followers on their profile pages. WeChat, Xiaohongshu and Kuaishou will trial the policy on accounts with over 1 million followers before expanding the rules.
This comes less than a month after Weibo started asking users with more than 1 million followers to disclose their true identities, with the threshold expected to lower to half a million. Most platforms limit the new real-name rules to influencers working in certain topics such as current affairs, military, finance, law or medicine, with minute differences between platforms. Users failing to comply may have their traffic and income limited.
Despite initial concerns about privacy, the real name display policies have expanded to almost all large social platforms. There has also been reports of influencers lowering their following to under 1 million to avoid real name disclosure after Weibo’s initial announcement. Founder and chief analyst of market consultancy firm iiMedia, Zhang Yi, argues that the rules “will strengthen community regulation and governance” on these platforms and ultimately be a greater benefit than drawback.
These new policies come amid the ongoing campaign from the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) to create a “healthier online ecosystem”. Part of the campaign is aimed at protecting private enterprises from fake news, rumours and slander, which the real-name policy will help combat. This protection dovetails with a recent initiative to support the private sector, including new legal guidelines from the country’s highest court last month.