One of China’s largest social media sites has decided to reverse the controversial decision in removing all LGBTI content from its platform.
The microblogging site, Weibo which first was launched in 2009 currently has over 392 million monthly active users and is estimated to be worth more than US$30 billion.
After almost a decade of allowing its users to post what they liked, the company deleted more than 56,000 posts and closed more than 100 accounts, which violated its new policy of excluding material “with pornographic implications, promoting bloody violence, or related to homosexuality.”
Following the news of the new policy, the company soon faced criticism and anger from users, who choose to take to social media in protest with hashtags such as #Iamgay and #Iamillegal.
The campaign against the move has since gone viral and has also resulted in a drop in the company’s stock on the Nasdaq market on Friday, losing nearly seven percent of its value.
As reported by Reuters, the People’s Daily, who are a major state-run Chinese newspaper, expressed their support for the LGBTI community, saying that while “vulgar” material should be removed, tolerance towards gay people should be encouraged.
“The problem with the policy is that it equates LGBT content with porn,” explained Xiao Tie, the head of the Beijing LGBTI Centre.
“But the bigger problem is the culture of strict censorship. Social media used to be an open space, but in the last year things have started to change.”
Fortunately, in response to the backlash, the company has since reversed its position and clarified that it would only focus on deleting adult and violent content.
“This time, the cleanup of anime and games won’t target gay content. It is mainly [meant] to clean up content related to pornography, violence, and gore. Thank you for your discussions and suggestions,” the company explained in a statement.
While Homosexuality is not illegal in China LGBTI people have no specific protections from discrimination.
China is also known for censoring LGBTI material, an issue that was recently brought to light following the Oscar-winning gay romance, Call Me By Your Name being dropped by the Beijing International Film Festival.