China bans younger livestream users from sending virtual gifts

The government also asked platforms to stop providing livestream feeds to minors after 10pm, according to the notice. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - Chinese regulators have further tightened their grip on the Internet industry, banning younger users from sending virtual gifts on livestream platforms, which could affect companies including ByteDance and Kuaishou Technology.

The announcement came after the central government hinted last week that it would wrap up a year-long crackdown on China's Internet industry, which is the world's largest e-commerce market and has created technology giants such as Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent Holdings.

Livestream apps are banned from providing minors with facilities for online transfers or virtual gift-purchase services, under the new rules, according to a joint notice published by several government agencies including the National Radio and TV Administration and Cyberspace Administration of China.

Before the new guidance and despite rules aimed at curbing online spending by minor users, many young people were able to send virtual gifts or cash tokens to livestream performers, with some platforms claiming a commission fee from the contributions.

The government also asked platforms to stop providing livestream feeds to minors after 10pm, according to the notice.

"Platforms should deeply understand the extreme importance and urgency of regulating the livestream environment and protecting minor users," said the notice.

Chinese authorities had already introduced stringent measures capping play time for minors and imposed requirements aimed at curbing addiction.

Late last month, China's top leadership vowed to support the healthy growth of platform companies as Covid-19 lockdowns countrywide threaten to dent the nation's economy.

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