Live streaming is taking off in China, but foreigners won’t be able to join in the fun.
Foreigners are reporting having their accounts suspended on big streaming platforms, where popular users are raking in big bucks through virtual gifts and other micro-donations.
Users on both Yizhibo, which is backed by Chinese social media giant Weibo, and Blued, China’s most popular gay social networking app, have received vague suspension notices, Sixth Tone reports.
Anton, a Ukrainian national living in China, said he was suddenly cut off during a broadcast session on Jan. 12.
“The app sent me a message saying I had broken some rules, but I was just broadcasting,” the Blued user said.
“Then, staff told me there was a new national regulation.”
These events come shortly after Chinese officials enforced a new set of regulations last year, stating that non-Chinese streamers had to first apply to the Ministry of Culture before starting their own live-streaming channels.
The law may be in place, but proper instructions to streaming services appear to be unclear. An unnamed employee from one of the streaming companies told Sixth Tone that details have not yet been released on how foreigners can apply for their broadcasting licences.
Live-streaming apps are massively popular in China, with some 300 million people in the country having used such apps in 2016.
To put that into context, the population of the entire U.S. is slightly over 300 million.
Many live-streamers broadcast every aspect of their everyday lives, from playing games online to putting on makeup, with some treating it as a full-time job.
Especially popular live-streamers have earned millions off such apps, and users are able to present virtual gifts to their favorite live-streamers, which can later be monetized.