China's Sina Weibo Reverses Ban on Gay Content After User Uproar

(Bloomberg) -- Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo reversed its decision to delete content related to gay themes following intense public backlash.

Sina Weibo, whose service is similar to Twitter Inc.’s, said it will no longer target gay content, and will focus on cleaning up material related to "pornography and violence," according to a post online. The company also thanks users for their "discussion and suggestions."

The original post from Friday, which drew tens of thousands of user comments, said that in an effort to create a "sunny and harmonious community environment," it would be rolling out a three-month campaign to remove content that includes images and videos related to violence, homosexuality and pornography and games with violent content. The company said the goal was to strictly comply with cybersecurity laws. Weibo has already removed more than 56,000 violations and shut down 108 accounts, according to the statement.

The site was bombarded with comments after the post went up, including hashtags like #Iamgay or #Iamgaynotapervert. Some also took to Twitter, which is banned in China.

Internet regulations have been getting stricter in China, as the country’s online watchdog imposes fines on news services run by Tencent, Baidu and Weibo. Internet regulators say they closed 3,918 websites in the second quarter last year for spreading information that was violent, pornographic, or a danger to national security. Weibo already employs a staff of thousands to monitor its service and remove posts that could anger the government. Last year it was one of three companies fined and banned by regulators from broadcasting certain types of content without a license.

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