World of Weibo

Wang junior gets three month ban

Too hot for netizens?

A strategic investment by Tencent in Wanda has dominated social media headlines since the deal was announced on Monday.

But this is not the only popular hashtag relating to Wang Jianlin’s property conglomerate. As regular WiC readers will know, the billionaire’s son, Wang Sicong, is often one of the most discussed topics on China’s internet thanks to his uncanny ability to stir up controversies.

For example, Wang junior stoked an internet sensation in January last year for celebrating his 29th birthday with a five-day, exclusive party on a Maldives island that reportedly set him back $500,000.

Last month, as he turned 30 and with his father’s business facing tough times (see WiC395), his mode of celebration was more subdued. But it was still racy enough to rank Wang top of Sina Weibo’s search list, following revelations that he spent his birthday night with two young women in his home.

With his occasional playboy antics, Wang has earned himself the sarcastic online moniker “the people’s husband”, which has become one of the most recurring social media hashtags.

But the internet celebrity suffered a setback this week with the Chinese government’s crackdown on Sina Weibo for “spreading misleading hype”. The campaign was not unexpected after a bout of internet havoc resulted in a Party-run magazine ending up on Sina Weibo’s highly viewed ‘hot searches’ section listed as a dodgy restaurant (see our article in WiC394 about the cottage industry that’s grown up around manipulating Sina’s top search rankings).

“Some companies and figures in the entertainment industry have manipulated their rankings, and related to this, a black market has been created,” Sina said in the statement, promising to invest in more staff and AI to stamp out the malpractice.

As part of the clean up, several functions on the popular platform, including its hot search ranking, were closed down for a week. Wang Sicong’s name and nickname were on a list of 38 banned terms Sina said would be suspended for three months.

This action came as part of the state censor’s attempt to promote what it regards as “educational” content on the internet. While few netizens have shown much sympathy with Wang’s temporary banishment, many believe weibo will increasingly become a far less interesting social media platform as it gets ‘harmonised’.

“Sina Weibo will soon belong in the same bracket as the CCTV’s News Simulcast,” lamented one netizen, referring to the news programme that is broadcast live on every Chinese TV station each evening and toes the Party line.

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