Chinese social media platforms like Weibo, WeChat, Douyin, Zhihu, Xiaohongshu, and Kuaishou now require popular users, including verified influencers, to display their legal names publicly. This new real-name policy has prompted concerns about privacy, online harassment, and the stifling of diverse voices. Some influencers are reducing their follower counts to avoid revealing their identities, while others are quitting social media altogether.
- Real-Name Policy Implementation: Several major Chinese social media platforms, including Weibo, WeChat, and Douyin, have introduced a real-name policy, starting with users who have over 1 million followers and later extending it to those with over 500,000 followers. Users are required to display their legal names on their public profiles.
- Influencers’ Concerns: Influencers on these platforms are worried that the real-name policy will violate their privacy, enable online harassment, and limit the diversity of voices on Chinese social media. Some have already taken measures to reduce their follower counts or have deleted their accounts to protect their anonymity.
- Purge Fans Strategy: Influencers are using a strategy called “qingfen” or “purge fans” to lower their follower counts by blocking inactive followers, bots, and trolls. This strategy aims to avoid being affected by the new rule.
- Impact on Online Expression: Experts believe that the real-name policy may limit the influence of key opinion leaders on Chinese social media, as it forces users to align their online identity with their offline identity. This alignment could make it more challenging for individuals to express controversial opinions.
- Government Scrutiny: While some fear government repression, the primary concern is the scrutiny of other users. The policy could lead to increased surveillance of influential users, potentially putting critical voices in danger and further stifling dissenting opinions.