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China bans excessive displays of wealth on social media

Chinese authorities have started taking online influencers known for their luxurious lifestyles off Chinese social media platforms amid a government crackdown on conspicuous displays of wealth.

China’s Cyberspace Administration, the national internet regulator, announced a campaign last month against influencers who “create a ‘wealth-flaunting’ persona, deliberately showcasing a luxurious life built on money, in order to attract followers and traffic.”

One influencer, Wang Hongquan, known for flaunting his luxurious lifestyle online had his account on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok banned.

Searches returned an error message saying it had been blocked “due to violations of Douyin’s community guidelines.”

The Douyin accounts of other online influencers who posted similar content, such as Bo Gongzi (Young Wealthy Lord Bai), with 2.9 million followers, and Baoyu Jiajie (Abalone Sister), with 2.3 million followers, were also blocked.

China is currently experiencing an economic slowdown that has reportedly hit the middle class especially hard.

“When most people are unhappy with their own lives, they see all this online content that’s so disconnected from reality — seeing all these people who seem so happy and wealthy, it creates a pretty warped psychology,” Lyla Lai, a former beauty influencer who had over a million followers on Douyin, said in a voice message.

Lai, who left Douyin amid criticism from other users over her sales tactics and lifestyle, said there were “concerns about young people today seeing too much of this stuff and not focusing on their studies anymore, getting caught up in this excessive, greedy materialism.”

“In the long run, that’s definitely not good for development, so this cleanup is really necessary,” said Lai, who now lives in Australia.

“But at the root of it, we also need to see the economy being able to develop more, so people can have a greater sense of fulfillment and happiness in their lives, rather than just seeking psychological comfort through the internet.”

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