Banish B site's baneful subtitles

China Central Television named and shamed Bilibili, also known as B site, a popular video streaming platform, for the huge amount of inappropriate content it hosted.

Recently, China Central Television named and shamed Bilibili, also known as B site, a popular video streaming platform, for the huge amount of inappropriate content it hosted, the Beijing Youth Daily reported.

In response, the platform is removing its app from stores and has launched a month-long rectification drive until late August. In a statement on its website the platform vows to shut down all videos suspected of inappropriate content and will strengthen its content review team. The platform has registered over 100 million active users, mostly under 24. Being one of them myself, I particularly appreciate the rich choice of TV shows, movies and music performance on the site. However, I’ve come across animations featuring erotic scenes, scantily-clad characters and fanvids (fan-made videos adapted from clips from films or TV series) hinting at unnatural relationships.

Some of these videos have been played tens of millions of times. This makes people wonder if the provider has an effective content review policy in place.

One of the most notable features of Bilibili is its danmu, a live feed of user comments that overlaid on the video as it plays. Such real-time commentary sets B site apart from typical video streaming platforms and enables it to double as a sort of a social platform. There viewers, rather than just passive spectators confined to their own screens, share a larger screen as they are channeled into different communities in light of the views they share.

I myself have a habit of revisiting some favorite shows and sometimes take great delight in exploring the flowing comments and am overjoyed at encountering someone like-minded. But bullet comments are more of a hotchpotch of instinctive responses, distasteful jokes, and annoying spoilers.

Some danmu can even be disruptive, as trolls exploit a trifle to make deliberately discriminatory remarks meant to elicit confrontational sentiments. Then the particularly susceptible among the viewers take sides and trade abuse that is, to say the least, completely irrelevant to the unfolding plot. Predictably, such is the intensity of the response that, occasionally, the entire screen becomes overwhelmed by layer upon layer of comments. As it degenerates into a raucous circus, the only option to continue watching the video without being distracted is to block the comments altogether.

Simply by typing their own ideas in the input bar at the bottom of the video, viewers can express whatever and whenever they want. It is a wholly new experience, and, sadly, too often exploited by unscrupulous viewers to give vent to radical views and sentiments.

There is certainly an urgency to regulate this stream of disruptive information.


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