Dilemma of young social media users in China

In December, The World Today and the Financial Times invited school students aged 16-18 to write a short article to answer the question: ‘Does social media make your life better or worse?’

The World Today Published 1 August 2020 Updated 4 October 2020 2 minute READ

The judges, Lord Jim O’Neill, Chair of Chatham House, Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary- General’s Envoy on Youth, and Tim Bradshaw, Global Tech Correspondent of the FT, selected this entry by Sarah Tan.

On February 24, 2020, a piece was published on AO3, the world’s largest fanfiction website, that portrayed Xiao Zhan, a male Chinese star, as a transgender salon girl. Instantaneously, a group of Xiao’s fans swarmed to accuse the author of feminizing Xiao and devastating his public image.

An online anti-smear campaign began. Enraged fans waged a cyberwar against AO3 on multiple social media platforms and tirelessly reported it to government authorities. Five days later, AO3 was blocked in mainland China.

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