Tencent’s WeChat to Ban Digital Influencers in Live Streaming

Tencent’s WeChat to Ban Digital Influencers in Live Streaming
Photo: Reuters 18.06.2024 344

The company plans to ban virtual hosts on its live-streaming commerce platforms, as Beijing tightens controls over AI-generated content.

Weixin Channel, WeChat’s video platform, has published a draft of new rules covering “low-quality content”, which noted that the use of “plug-ins, AI and other tools to generate avatars for live streaming” was not allowed.

“Teaching and selling virtual human software” will also be regarded as “confrontational behaviour” and prohibited, according to the draft.

The new draft rules come as authorities have cracked down on the use of AI technologies for creating virtual avatars. Internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), has requested that local providers of generative AI services must take measures to prevent the dissemination of discriminatory content and false information, according to CAC’s proposed regulation published last April.

Tencent said online hosts who violate the rules will have their live-streaming exposure reduced by the company’s algorithm, and more serious violators will have their e-commerce function limited.

Tencent’s motive for changing the rules was to “encourage more [live] anchors to have real-time interaction with viewers”, according to people familiar with the matter.

The draft rules are open for comments from June 7-13, and Tencent will review feedback from live streamers, according to the people.

Despite the growing scrutiny of “virtual humans”, China’s top live streaming platforms continue to allow AI-powered avatars.

Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com has embraced the concept. In April, the avatar of its founder and chairman Richard Liu Qiangdong debuted on its platform. Liu’s avatar hosted two live-streaming sessions to promote consumer electronic devices and groceries, attracting more than 20 million views combined.

JD.com rival Alibaba Group Holding, which owns the Post, does not prohibit the use of or promotion of avatars on its live-streaming platforms. On Taobao’s online shopping channel, there are hundreds of vendors providing digital human-related services, including creating clones for clients and providing courses for building digital hosts. These services are priced from 20 yuan to 8,000 yuan.

Although Douyin, the Chinese version of ByteDance’s global hit short video app TikTok, has not banned virtual humans in live streaming, it rolled out a set of rules last May asking digital creators to label any content generated by AI, in compliance with China’s new regulations on “deep fake” technologies.

Source: SCMP

digital markets  China 

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