BEIJING (AP) — A cherubic British cartoon character has become an unlikely target of China’s censors as fans use her porcine likeness in rap videos and “gangster” tattoos.
The cherubic swine’s subversive alter-ego has made her a viral hit but also a target of government workers who police the internet.
Videos with the hashtag #PeppaPig could not be searched Wednesday on Douyin, a popular video app. The catchphrase, “Get a tattoo of Peppa Pig, give a round of applause to ‘gangsters,'” was also not searchable on the Weibo microblogging platform, which said it was acting “in accordance with relevant legal regulations.”
Regulators have been ratcheting up control over Chinese blogs and apps in recent months. A controversial cybersecurity law was introduced last June as part of President Xi Jinping’s efforts to tighten control over what China’s public can see and say online while still trying to reap the economic benefits of internet use.
It was not clear whether the censorship of Peppa on Douyin was prompted by a government mandate. Bytedance, the company that owns Douyin, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Chinese media said there had been at least 30,000 clips under Peppa’s hashtag on Douyin. Variations on the name, such as “PigPig” or “PeppaPeppa” are still searchable.