On July 13, users of Bilibili, one of the most popular video-streaming websites among Chinese millennials, woke up to the dismal news that many TV shows and movies — most of them produced abroad — had been taken offline from the website overnight, according to Sixth Tone.
The sudden removal sparked a wave of fury and anguish among Chinese internet users, but no official explanation has yet been offered. When reached by Sixth Tone, a Bilibili public relations employee declined to comment. Some users are speculating that the removal might relate to copyright issues, while others blame censorship.
Different from other video-streaming platforms such as Tudou and Youku, which are similar to Youtube, Bilibili offers foreign TV shows and movies and tries to limit advertising. The company has also helped foster a community of translators who subtitled overseas shows.
Naturally, the slightly freewheeling nature of this attracted the attention of the regulators: On July 5, Bilibili announced that — to comply with orders from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (SAPPRFT) — users would have to use their real names to register for an account.
Just a week later, the TV shows and films disappeared.
Internet users reacted to the news with tremendous anger. On social media platform Weibo, one user made a post (in Chinese) of several screenshots of the new drama section, which reveals that the only content now available is old China-produced programs. One of the most upvoted comment reads: “The day we are completely cut off from the outside world will come sooner or later.”
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