Protests Erupt as China's Weibo Starts Purging Content It Deems Violent or Homosexual

Weibo, the popular social network platform in China, is now systematically deleting all content it deems to be violent or homosexual as part of its drive to comply with the new cybersecurity policies imposed by the government. Sina Weibo users have rallied against the perceived censorship since Friday, April 13.

The social media service, which has been compared to Twitter, has announced last Friday that it will be removing videos, photos and other content it decides to come "with pornographic implications, promoting bloody violence, or related to homosexuality," as Sina Weibo laid out their new content policies, via The Guardian.

Wikimedia Commons/Julien Gong MinThis HTC Salsa China phone model comes with a dedicated button for Weibo, a massively popular social network platform in China.

This sweep, which Weibo announced will last for at least three months, will mainly target content such as "manga and videos with pornographic implications, promoting violence or (related to) homosexuality," according to Yahoo News.

Also targeted are "violent video games, like 'Grand Theft Auto,'" as the Weibo official admin account gave as an example in its announcement.

The new policies have stirred up a tide of protests from Chinese Internet users. The hashtag "I am gay" was posted about 170,000 times last weekend, before Weibo eventually decided to ban it from the platform.

The new crackdown on online content was a move to "create a sunny and harmonious community environment" and "comply with the country's cybersecurity laws," the Internet company said. It was a policy that prompted many to bring up China's constitution and laws about the protection of minorities, especially in the cases where homosexuals could be marginalized by Weibo's new content regulations.

"There can be no homosexuality under socialism? It is unbelievable that China progresses economically and militarily but returns to the feudal era in terms of ideas," one user commented, while another asked how it is possible for the public opinion to have this "narrow" mindset in just the past couple of years.

Wikimedia Commons/Ludovic BertronIn response to Weibo's move to ban content it deems to be "homosexual," users in China posted photos with their partners, and rainbow emojis over the past weekend.

Meanwhile, other Chinese Internet users bemoaned the loss of even more content produced overseas that they are now denied access to. "It's simply discriminatory! Many mangas removed were not pornographic," one user pointed out.

Many comments like these have been deleted, according to reports. While homosexuality has been decriminalized in 1997, it won't be until 2001 before the government took it off the official list of mental disorders. Even then, it has been the current Chinese government's standing policy to severely regulated content related to LGBT themes.

China's new cybersecurity laws also now let the government exert pressure on private entities and companies, even ones as big as Weibo, as Engadget pointed out. Aside from putting more control on content regulation in the hands of the Chinese government, the new laws now also make it easier for authorities to closely monitor all online activity.

Weibo claims to have removed more than 56,000 pieces of content, with 108 user accounts deleted as of yesterday. These numbers are expected to increase as the social network steps up its drive to rid its platform of anything that might violate the new cybersecurity regulations in China.