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Tencent's WeChat Implements Ban on AI-Powered Digital Influencers in Live Streaming

Tencent's WeChat is breaking ranks by prohibiting AI-powered digital influencers from live broadcasting, as Chinese authorities tighten regulations on AI-generated content. The draft guidelines are intended to discourage the use of AI tools to create avatars and teach or sell virtual human software. Violators will face sanctions such as diminished exposure and limited e-commerce capabilities.

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Weixin Channel, WeChat's video platform, has issued a draft of new guidelines aimed at "low-quality content," which clearly prohibits the use of "plug-ins, AI, and other tools to generate avatars for live streaming".

The draft guidelines also prohibit the "teaching and selling of virtual human software," which is classified as "confrontational behaviour." These new limits come as Chinese authorities tighten restrictions on the use of AI technologies for producing virtual avatars. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the country's internet regulator, has proposed legislation requiring local suppliers of generative AI services to take precautions against the spread of discriminating content and incorrect information.

Tencent has said that any web hosts that break these restrictions would face sanctions. The company's algorithm will minimise their live-streaming exposure, while more serious violators will have their e-commerce function restricted. According to sources, these modifications are intended to encourage more live anchors to connect with viewers in real time.

The proposed rules are presently out for public comment until June 13, and Tencent will consider feedback from live streamers before completing the laws. Li Chengdong, head of Beijing-based consultancy Dolphin, feels that these adjustments are designed to preserve the platform's interests. He says that the low cost of producing avatars allows anyone to produce hundreds, if not thousands, of avatars in a short period of time, possibly disrupting the market and affecting real-world anchors.

Despite mounting concerns about "virtual humans," China's biggest live streaming sites continue to allow AI-powered avatars. The market for AI-powered avatars was worth 20.52 billion yuan (US$2.8 billion) last year and is predicted to more than double to 48.06 billion yuan by 2025, according to iiMedia Research.

While Tencent is working to restrict AI-powered digital influencers, its e-commerce competitor has embraced the concept. In April, the avatar of's founder and chairman, Richard Liu Qiangdong, made its debut on the site, presenting two live-streaming sessions to promote consumer electronic items and groceries, which received over 20 million views combined.

In contrast, Alibaba Group Holding, the owner of the South China Morning Post, does not prohibit the use or advertising of avatars on its live-streaming platforms. Numerous vendors on Taobao's online shopping channel offer digital human-related services, such as creating clones for clients and providing courses for establishing digital hosts. These services are priced between 20 and 8,000 yuan.

Alibaba Cloud has also been pushing its digital human services, emphasising their potential to serve as live-streaming hosts and shopping assistants, offering round-the-clock services for a monthly fee of 5,749 yuan per 3D avatar, according to its website.

While Douyin, the Chinese version of ByteDance's global hit short video app TikTok, has not banned virtual humans from live streaming, it has established guidelines requiring digital artists to label any AI-generated content, in accordance with China's prohibitions on "deep fake" technologies.

  • Tencent's WeChat is breaking ranks by banning AI-powered digital influencers in live streaming, as Chinese authorities tighten controls over AI-generated content.

  • The draft rules aim to discourage the use of AI tools to generate avatars and teach or sell virtual human software. Violators will face consequences, including reduced exposure and limited e-commerce functions.

Source: SCMP

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