Hitting the Chart Asks for Rationality
In July 2020, the Cyberspace Administration of China launched a special rectification of ‘Clean and Bright’, covering 7 areas, focusing on combating, eliminating and rectifying unhealthy Internet content, supplemented by rectifying malicious pop-ups on the Internet. For the first time, the event proposed to severely crack down on the behavior of inducing minors to assist in hitting the charts.
With the development of the cultural and entertainment industry, the scale of ‘fans group’ continues to grow and become an important part in the entertainment industry chain. In order to promote their idols and boost their popularity, under the intervention of entertainment companies, the ‘fans group’ has gradually formed a series of operating methods such as ‘assist in hitting the chart, boost popularity and control comments’. On the surface, compared with direct sponsor costing a large amount of money, hitting the charts takes less amount of time and money to buy albums. Thus, this seems ‘rational star chasing’ less harmful to minors, but is this the real situation?
- Time Consumption problem of hitting the chart
As the rankings are constantly updated every day, some fans groups will use the early morning hours to refresh the rankings. Such behaviors have a negative impact on the regular routine of young people. In July 2018, South Korea announced the freezing of the ‘Early Morning Audio Source Chart’ in response to the problem of cheating on audio sources. Its fundamental start point is to prevent fans from boosting popularity maliciously, cracking down on the phenomenon of audio fraud, and meanwhile reducing the occurrence of overnight hitting chart. In China, currently, the anti-addiction system for apps used by teenagers and the limitation on the length of use is mainly restricted to video and game software. On game software, the teenage anti-addiction mode will be forced to turn on after real-name verification, but music and video software is not that highly mandatory. Weibo, as the headquarter of “fans group”, also lacks compulsory measures to turn on the teenage mode. From this point of view, it is not difficult for minors to spend a lot of time on hitting the chart. Undoubtedly, this kind of time consumption is harmful to the physical and mental health of the underage.
2. Money Spending Problem of Hitting the Chart
Hitting the chart is inseparable from spending money. With the rise of knowledge payment in China recent years, the download volume of paid songs, the number of branded products subscriptions of stars, and the volume of album purchases have all become part of hitting the charts. The prices of these products are cheap, which exactly meets the spending capacity of underage fans. However, the minds of minors are immature. Under the guidance of “big fans” in the “fans group”, they can easily spend all their pocket money on related products to prove that they are in “true love” with their idols.
In addition, some platforms launched “Borrow to Hit the Chart” on e-commerce festivals which can gain multiple likes for idols. In November 2019, in the “Double Eleven Online Shopping Power List” campaign launched by “Weibo Borrow”, if the amount of borrowed money is no less than 8,000 yuan, the borrower can acquire 8 times the amount of likes for their idols. Such type of campaign directly marks the price of the idol’s ranking. Because teenagers have not established a sound consumption value, even if the relevant platforms clearly stated that they will not open micro-lending to minors, under the temptation of high multiples of likes, it is difficult to stop the enthusiasm of teenagers to do so. Behaviors such as borrowing parents accounts and sending money to “fans group” to raise funds for hitting the chart’ are here and there. According to relevant laws and regulations, even if a minor is a person with limited capacity for civil conduct, whose conduct performed requires the consent or ratification of the legal agent before taking effect, the minor can still independently perform civil legal acts compatible with his intelligence and mental status. That is to say, only a certain amount of underage consumption can be refunded according to law. As mentioned above, the prices of products used to hit the charts are cheap. For example, in the music charts, the price of downloading a song is only 2-3 yuan, and the price of an album ranges from tens of yuan. Even if one buy several copies, the amount is still not large. Thus, from a legal point of view, there is nothing wrong with this type of purchase.
But if we look at such buying behaviors from the view of physical and mental development of minors, let alone how to use these repeatedly purchased products, spending all living expenses on hitting the charts, eating less meals in order to download a few more songs, borrowing money from classmates and friends to hit the charts are not conducive to the all-round development of youngsters.
Regarding the restrictions on the amount of money minors spend on rankings, no relevant intervention mechanism has been introduced in China or abroad. In this regard, Tencent seems to be at the forefront of the practice regarding minors’ game charges. Drawing lessons from Tencent’s methods, the platform adopts facial recognition technology, imposes monthly limit on transactions of minors, and performs facial recognition when large expenditures are made. ‘Great oaks from little acorns grow.’ A dozen yuan seems inconspicuous, but it can reach an unexpected amount with the accumulation of time. However, since the amount of each expenditure is small and the time interval is long, the process of appealing the refund is cumbersome and complicated, and most appeals have no results.
To help minors establish healthy value and consumption view has a long way to go. In addition to hoping that ‘idols’ can lead a good example and establish a more positive role model for young people, it is also necessary to regulate relevant industries from the legal and institutional level, to establish a complete set of supervisory compensation mechanism to achieve the effect of ‘supervision and complaints both find their own ways’.
3 Cyberspace Administration of China. The announcement of launching the 2020‘Clear and Bright’underage summer internet environment special rectification operation [EB/OL].http://www.cac.gov.cn/2020-07/13/c_1596175859026231.htm,2020-07-24.
4 China Music Business. The six major Korean music source canceled ‘Early Morning Music Source Chart Charts’[EB/OL]. http://www.chinambn.com/show-5877.html,2020-07-24
5 China Times. Weibo borrow is suspected to induce fans borrow money to ‘hit charts’? Response: Unexpected.[EB/OL].https://finance.ifeng.com/c/7rxzEtNcSGe, 2020-07-24