Lists ranking celebrities by popularity are now banned in China, where regulators are cracking down on what they call a chaotic fan club culture. "We must restore a clean and upright literary and artistic environment to the public," declared state broadcaster CCTV, per AFP. Regulations published by state media forbid online lists ranking celebrities by popularity and note any existing lists must be erased, reports the Guardian. Celebrity managers and firms operating fan pages—some of which charge membership fees or encourage fans to purchase products from advertisers or celebrity endorsers—are also to be strictly regulated.
This follows a two-month operation by the office of the central cyberspace affairs commission to evaluate fan club culture, known as "fan quan," which it said had contributed to online abuse, often among rival groups, per the Guardian. The commission previously pointed to doxxing and harassment campaigns and said children had been contributing to fundraising and voting campaigns for celebrities. Superfans of singer Kris Wu, detained on suspicion of rape, had tried to raise money to cover his legal costs, while others created chat groups aimed to help him escape detention, reports the New York Times.
Some celebrities have been targeted. Actress Zheng Shuang was fined over $46 million Friday for tax evasion, while regulators told broadcasters to stop airing any content in which she appeared. Meanwhile, content featuring Zhao Wei, one of China's top actresses, was scrubbed from the internet, along with a fan forum on Weibo, for unknown reasons. "Her name was even removed from the actual works that she had starred in," per the Times, which sees the crackdown as "the latest example of the increasingly assertive role that China's governing Communist Party under Xi Jinping, an authoritarian leader, wants to take in regulating culture." (Read more China stories.)