Chinese video streaming website Bilibili announced on its Weibo microblog Thursday night that it has taken down some films and TV shows for review to ensure they comply with certain rules and regulations.
The announcement came one day after it removed a large number of foreign films and shows without prior notice or immediate explanation, taking millions of its users by surprise. Acfun, a similar video streaming website, also had its foreign films and shows removed Wednesday night.
Bilibili said that during the review, many of its films and its TV content won’t be available to users. When the review is done, they will be gradually put back online.
Content that does not comply with certain requirements will be taken down permanently. But Bilibili did not elaborate on the rules and regulations under which its content is being reviewed, nor did it give any reason for such a review.
“For the reason we all understand,” said one user in a comment under Bilibili’s announcement, hinting that the removal was an act of government censorship. This comment received over 8,000 likes within a few hours and hundreds of replies under it, most blaming the censorship department.
“Bilibili is simply taking the blame for the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television,” wrote another commenter referring to the main censorship department in China.
Many commenters argued that it was probably just out of copyright concerns. However, in 2014, the government did something similar to big Chinese video streaming sites, including Sohu, iQIYI and Tencent, when it ordered these websites to take down many popular American TV shows, all of which had proper copyrights.
It also required these websites to send shows for government review before releasing them online, which often results in substantial cuts. It was only after the 2014 crackdown that more and more Chinese viewers turned to smaller but more independent websites like Bilibili and Acfun.