Douban, a popular online community that hosts content related to celebrity gossip and entertainment in China, has been fined 20 times this year for publishing content deemed “harmful” or “unhealthy” by regulators.
In a latest crackdown on Thursday, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) slapped Douban with an RMB 1.5 million (USD 192,500) fine for “unlawful information” published on its app, a move dovetailing with a sweeping crackdown on the country’s online fan clubs. The cumulative financial penalty for Douban since the beginning of the year has reached RMB 9 million (USD 1.41 million).
The CAC on Wednesday summoned the principals of Douban. The CAC did not specify the reason for their meeting or the fine, but demanded Douban to perform “immediate rectification” on the matter.
In response, Douban suspended its reply function from Thursday, December 2, to December 17. The company said it will strengthen efforts to censor content during this period, in order to comply with the CAC’s order.
Douban became a target of regulators’ ongoing crackdown on fandom culture as its users often gossip about Chinese celebrities in online interest groups. The Cyberspace Administration of China issued a notice in August that said it will tighten scrutiny on the country’s “chaotic fan culture.”
Soon after the notice, Douban disabled its reply function, and required a number of fan groups on the platform to rename their communities to indicate a change in attitude toward celebrity culture and fandoms. Several groups were ordered to remove words such as “gossip” and “scoop” from their names.
Douban is also popular with online feminist groups. In April, however, the company shut down ten feminist groups, which had more than 1 million members in total. The company said these banned groups were promoting extreme and radical political views and ideological content.