Asia Pacific / Offbeat

Forbidden fruit: China bans 'erotic' banana-eating live streams

by Jesse Johnson

Staff Writer

Bananas may be China’s new forbidden fruit — at least online.

As part of the government’s crackdown on “inappropriate” content online, Chinese live-streaming video services have banned people from filming themselves while eating bananas “erotically,” state media has reported.

New regulations mean hosts of live-streaming services are now being required to monitor their output 24 hours a day, seven days a week, China’s state-run CCTV news reported last week. While standards have yet to be fixed, hosts of Web TV shows are prohibited from eating “bananas seductively” in front of the camera.

The move comes after China’s Culture Ministry on April 14 announced an investigation of popular live-broadcast websites for “allegedly providing content that contains pornography or violence and encourages viewers to break laws and harms social morality.”

CCTV reported Thursday that the sites being probed had tightened control of their most popular hosts, which it said were “predominately attractive women showing their cleavage.”

According to ministry statistics, live-broadcast sites in China have a total of 200 million registered users. A survey cited by CCTV said 30-40 percent of the subjects in live-streams were students, while 77 percent of the viewers were male users.

The government in Beijing, with its “Great Firewall of China,” is among the world’s strictest when it comes to censorship and stamping out Internet freedoms. China ranked dead last in Freedom House’s annual Freedom on the Net report in 2015. President Xi Jinping has made “cybersovereignty” a top priority, forcing Internet users to endure crackdowns on “rumors,” greater enforcement of rules against anonymity and disruptions to the circumvention tools that are commonly used to bypass censorship, the report said.

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