Tuesday, November 28, 2023

‘He smacked himself’: Squeaky-clean China influencer with three million followers loses 600,000 fans in week over ‘money-making’ comments

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An online influencer in China who referred to livestreaming as simply a way of raising money has offended many people on mainland social media and lost a small army of followers.

Yu Wenliang, a university student in eastern China’s Shandong province, shot to fame in October thanks to his short videos released on Douyin.

The clips record his daily activities such as eating, playing football, riding a bicycle, shaving and attending classes.

The inspirational, just-like-everyone-else nature of the videos was at the core of their popularity, Bailu News reported.

His number of followers rose dramatically from fewer than 100,000 at the beginning of October to 3.8 million at the end of the same month.

He has harvested 60 million likes for his 130 video clips on his Douyin account.

Many people like the simple style of his videos which usually last about 10 seconds, setting him apart from most online celebrities.

Yu has always said that he did not intend to cash in on his online popularity, saying it is his father’s responsibility to earn money for the family. He also refused offers to endorse products in his videos.

But Yu recently made comments that have tarnished his innocent image.

When another male online host said he thought livestreaming sessions were all about quan qian, which literally means raising money by setting a trap to cheat innocent investors, Yu said he agreed with him.

“You are so real! You just said what I think,” Yu said in front of his livestreaming audience.

“Don’t you think we should hide our intention a little bit?… No, let’s just quan qian together, bro,” Yu continued.

The comments have seen his number of followers drop to 3.16 million from 3.8 million at the time of writing.

“It’s disgusting that not long ago he said that he didn’t want to make money online, but now he smacked himself,” one person said.

“I feel I am a clown for being fascinated with him before. Now I don’t know which words he speaks are true,” another angry online observer wrote.

On Nov 10, Yu issued a statement about the controversy saying his comments were made “for fun”.

“I shall bear all the consequences. I tried to make money online for family reasons. It’s not convenient for me to explain it right now,” he wrote.

Yu claims his controversial comments came as a result of family issues but declined to elaborate. Photo: Douyin

Yu is not the only mainland online influencer to suffer after making inappropriate comments.

In September, China’s ecommerce retail influencer Austin Li Jiaqi, widely known as Lipstick King for his cosmetic-selling abilities, was forced to make a tearful apology after he displeased the mainland public by criticising the work ethic of his potential customers. – South China Morning Post

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