At the start of the coronavirus outbreak, Chinese live-streaming gaming platforms Huya and Douyu offered online education classes for free to teenage users as schools across the country were closed. Now the two are facing mounting criticism for placing excessive video game ads in close proximity to those online classes.
What’s the story?
In February, Huya and Douyu launched free live-streaming services for online classes, with Douyu backed by the Wuhan Ministry of Education (Source: Beijing News). However, before users could click through to an online lecture they had to navigate through a maze of video game ads and other commercial content. Attracted by the ads, many spent money on games without their parents’ knowing.
A recent investigation by state broadcaster CCTV called attention to the problem and highlighted the lack of regulation in this area. Although authorities have banned gaming and inappropriate content from education apps, it remains unclear whether live-streamed classes on Huya and Douyu were subject to these rules (Source: China National Radio).
In response to CCTV’s investigation, Huya has shut down its online course service and Douyu has removed video game ads from its online learning page. Additionally, Huya has offered refunds to minors who secretly spent their parents’ money (Source: Huya’s Weibo account).
What are people saying online?
Many people are urging more stringent regulation of live-streaming services targeted at teenagers. They believe that excessive ads in online courses hurt both students and parents. “If you want to launch an education section, you should only insert appropriate ads,” one user wrote.
Others are defending Huya and Douyu, saying that authorities should not expect gaming platforms to be tailored for online education. They argue that live-streaming companies rely on ads to make money, and that it’s the responsibility of parents to keep an eye on their kids.
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