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Luxury influencers vanish from Chinese social media in wealth crackdown

Chinese social media censors have blocked multiple influencers known for showing off their lavish lifestyles.

Some influencer accounts on Douyin, China's version of TikTok, have been blocked
Some influencer accounts on Douyin, China's version of TikTok, have been blocked - Copyright AFP/File Pedro PARDO
Some influencer accounts on Douyin, China's version of TikTok, have been blocked - Copyright AFP/File Pedro PARDO

Chinese social media censors have blocked multiple influencers known for showing off their lavish lifestyles after an official campaign to curb displays of ostentatious wealth online was announced. 

The Douyin account of Wang Hongquan, a content creator who amassed more than four million followers with videos showing off designer outfits, first-class flights and his jade jewellery collection, was no longer accessible on Tuesday.

An error message displayed on the Chinese version of TikTok said Wang’s account had been blocked “due to violations of Douyin’s community guidelines”.

China’s internet watchdog in April launched the “Clear and Bright” campaign to remove undesirable content from social media, vowing to crack down on influencers who created “ostentatious personas to cater to vulgar needs, and deliberately display extravagant lifestyles filled with money”. 

Chinese state media reported that Wang’s videos disappeared from Douyin earlier this month, along with the accounts of several other luxury influencers.

“Sister Abalone”, a woman who filmed her elaborately decorated mansion and was regularly seen dripping with diamond and pearl necklaces, also appeared to have been targeted.

Her videos were no longer visible on the YouTube-like Bilibili site on Tuesday.

“Young Master Bo”, an influencer who filmed himself test-driving Rolls-Royces and splurging on rare Hermes Birkin bags, was also missing from Douyin on Tuesday, with his account showing an error message that said he had “violated relevant laws and regulations”.

China’s Communist government has in recent years sought to tighten the reins on social media celebrities, with authorities frequently criticising “money worship” and “vulgar” content.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “common prosperity” initiative to reduce economic inequality has also resulted in massive fines for livestreaming influencers, with “queen of livestreaming” Viya force to pay a $204 million fine for tax evasion in 2021.

AFP
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