After a crackdown on Winnie the Pooh, internet censors in China have been taking on popular British cartoon character Peppa Pig for its purported “negative influence” on Chinese society.
Users of the popular video-sharing platform Douyin have complained that clips of the character have reportedly vanished from the site.
State-run media platform Global Times reported that searching “Peppa Pig” yielded no results, while a Peppa Pig hashtag previously linked to 30,000 Peppa Pig videos has been taken down. Variations on the character’s name such as “PigPig” or “PeppaPeppa,” however, remain searchable.
It is believed that the character gained its sudden notoriety as local fans of Peppa Pig began using her image in rap videos and “gangster” tattoos, according to the Associated Press. The fandom reportedly resulted in graphic or sexually suggestive memes and parodies of the cartoon made for kids.
Peppa Pig became a “subculture icon” among the Chinese shehuiren (社会人), a term which is attributed to slackers, hoodlums, gangsters, and youth groups that the Chinese government is not too fond of.
While it was not confirmed whether Douyin’s censorship of Peppa was actually mandated by the government, it was government paper People’s Daily which recently warned that Peppa “should not be allowed to destroy children’s childhoods.”
Douyin denied that it “banned” Peppa Pig, but an anonymous source reportedly close to the company confirmed to AP that it did remove some user-generated Peppa Pig videos it found to be inappropriate.
A list of banned topics on Douyin deemed to be “official” has emerged online, placing Peppa Pig alongside others deemed as “undesirables” by the government such as nudity, guns, and men dressing up like women.
Peppa Pig, which was introduced to Chinese viewers in 2015, has enjoyed a massive popularity in the country. The first episode of Season 5 has already been watched over 117 million times on Youku.com. Over the past year alone, its online episodes have been viewed over 10 billion times.