With the apparent shutdown of a lesbian hashtag and a purge of Rainbow Flag icons, signs point to a new crackdown on LGBTQ content by leading Chinese social media site Sina Weibo.
The Beijing LGBT Center called out a shift in policy after the site apparently shut down the “super topic” site #les, according to SupChina. The super content hashtag, similar to hashtags on sites like Twitter and Instagram, was used to discuss lesbian content on the social media platform. Before this weekend, #les had around 143,000 views and about 125,000 posts.
Users also found they could no longer include Ranbow Flag logos in their Weibo bios.
The action against LGBTQ social media content comes almost a year to the day after the platform backed down from a similar crackdown last year.
The site in April 2018 promised it would censor “images, videos, text, and cartoons that were related to pornography, violence, or homosexuality,” but within about a day dropped “homosexuality” from its banned content list. That came after the #IamGay super topic took off immediately.
Weibo this go-around made no major announcement ahead of taking down content, and the site has yet to acknowledge any action.
The hashtag #IamLes surfaced in the wake of the new content takedowns, and has apparently spread faster than #IamGay did a year ago. While the IamGay hashtag last year quickly amassed 170,000 posts, #IamLes has already inspired more than 530,000 comments.
The company seemed to back down last year amid fears of stock prices declining. But in advance of this crackdown, the company already faces financial challenges. Weibo stock price in March dropped more than 14 percent, according to Motley Fool.