New Delhi: Flaunting wealth on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, is now prohibited, as it promotes “unhealthy values”. In a notice issued last week, Douyin said six kinds of content, including “flaunting wealth” are now banned on the platform.
The app has reportedly also removed more than 2,800 videos and banned nearly 4,000 accounts since the start of the year. In one of the banned videos, a user was seen showing off a large wad of cash and luxury items such as iPhones, according to ByteDance. Another video showed a user throwing money. Both videos were removed and the related accounts banned.
The six other categories identified by the ByteDance-owned app include promoting money-worship; using minors in videos related to luxury products; “showing off one’s social status in an inappropriate way” — which includes “making fun of the poor”; “fabricating narratives” about having returned after studying abroad and showing a rags to riches story.
ByteDance, a Chinese internet technology company, is also the owner of TikTok which is banned in India, along with 266 other Chinese apps.
A spokesperson of the platform was quoted as saying that flaunting wealth “pollutes the social atmosphere (on Douyin) and is particularly harmful for the mental and physical well-being of minors”. It has also been said that the ban was to promote “rational spending” and a “civilised lifestyle”.
The decision comes after China’s internet watchdog issued stricter guidelines for domestic online platforms and highlighted wealth-flaunting as an issue last year. The government had called to spread more “positive energy online” as the year marks 100 years of the formation of the Chinese Communist Party.
Wealth flaunting not new
The trend of many Chinese citizens flaunting wealth online goes back to the 2000s, around the time when people started blogging. Many Chinese celebrities have been criticised for this. Wang Sicong, son of Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin, faced backlash in 2016 when he shared photos of eight iPhones that he had supposedly bought for his dog.
Some government spokespersons have also suggested that TV dramas glorifying wealth-flaunting were partly responsible for the country’s recent law regulating video and audio content for children.
According to London-based property consultancy Knight Frank, China saw the number of its ultra-wealthy residents, defined as people with net worth more than $30 million excluding their primary residence, increase by 16 per cent last year.
China’s rapid economic growth over the past four decades has raised the country’s living standards, but it has also come at the cost of a widening wealth gap. While the country’s Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality on a scale of 0 to 1, has shown a declining trend in the past decade, it has remained above 0.4 for years, according to official statistics.