From the blog

CHINA: Beijing Bans ‘Wealth-Flaunting’ Behaviours On Social Media

Online influencers known for their luxurious lifestyles are disappearing from Chinese social media amid a government crackdown on conspicuous displays of wealth.

China’s Cyberspace Administration, the national internet regulator, announced a campaign last month against influencers who “create a ‘wealth-flaunting’ persona, deliberately showcasing a luxurious life built on money, in order to attract followers and traffic.”

It is not the first time Chinese authorities have tried to police the internet, which is heavily censored in China. In 2022, officials issued a “code of conduct” prohibiting livestream anchors from “displaying or hyping a large number of luxury goods, jewellery, cash and other assets.”

China, like most countries is experiencing an economic slowdown that has hit the middle class hard. Young people in China are also struggling in an intensely competitive job market, with some of them choosing to “lie flat” and withdrawing from society or seeing content creation on social media as the only viable career.

“When most people are unhappy with their own lives, they see all this online content that’s so disconnected from reality — seeing all these people who seem so happy and wealthy, it creates a pretty warped psychology,” Lyla Lai, a former beauty influencer who had over a million followers on Douyin, said in a voice message.

Lai, who left Douyin amid criticism from other users over her sales tactics and lifestyle, said there were “concerns about young people today seeing too much of this stuff and not focusing on their studies anymore, getting caught up in this excessive, greedy materialism.”

“In the long run, that’s definitely not good for development, so this cleanup is really necessary,” said Lai, who now lives in Australia.

“But at the root of it, we also need to see the economy being able to develop more, so people can have a greater sense of fulfilment and happiness in their lives, rather than just seeking psychological comfort through the internet.”