China KOL with 19 million fans shut down for faking story about school homework left in Paris café toilet apologises

China KOL with 19 million fans shut down for faking story about school homework left in Paris café toilet apologises

The social media account of an online influencer in China has been taken down after videos she posted earlier this year – which gripped the nation – were exposed as fabrications.

The blogger, who uses the name Thurman mao yi bei online, had 18.8 million followers on Douyin before being punished in the middle of April by the authorities in Hangzhou, capital city of Zhejiang province in eastern China.

On April 12, the police said content in two viral videos about a mainland primary school student who lost his winter holiday homework in Paris were made up.

The creators of the videos were a 29-year-old blogger, surnamed Xu, and her colleague, surnamed Xue, state media CCTV reported.

Xu is Thurman mao yi bei.

Investigators said the widely circulated footage had a serious impact on the public. As a result the authorities slapped an “administrative punishment” on Xu’s company.

In China, administrative punishments usually target people or companies which threaten public order and cause bad social consequences.

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The influencer bought the homework book online then flew to Paris with it to film the fabricated videos. Photo: Douyin

Penalties can include a warning, a fine, a revocation of a business licence and up to 10 days detention. The exact nature of the punishment in this case was not identified.

In the first video released by Xu on February 16, she was seen being given a book of Chinese unfinished winter holiday homework by a French cleaner who found it in a restaurant toilet in Paris.

The blogger said the book belonged to a Primary One student called Qin Lang. She bought a pencil and completed the homework, the video showed.

“Qin Lang, I will fly back to China immediately and bring back your homework. I easily completed it for you. No need to thank me, haha,” Xu said in the video.

Days later, a man in Jiangsu province in eastern China, who claimed to be Qin’s uncle, but was not, leveraged this fake identity to attract online attention. He has also received an administrative punishment from the police.

On February 19, Xu released a second video saying she had contacted Qin’s mother and had returned the homework to her.

She also shared a screen capture of online chats between her and the so-called mother of Qin, saying: “The story has come to a happy ending.”

However, the authorities said there was no record of a young student called Qin Lang leaving the country during the winter holiday.

Xu confessed to the police that she and her colleague Xue concocted the story to boost her online profile. They bought the winter holiday homework book from a mainland shopping website before going to France to shoot the videos.

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The blogger, who lost 440,000 followers in the 24 hours after her story was exposed as a fake, has apologised. Photo: Douyin

Xu apologised in a video on April 12 before her account was shut down the next day.

“I apologised to the public. I feel deeply guilty and sorry. I call on my counterparts in this industry to learn the lessons of my case and not to fabricate or circulate fake content,” she said.

Xu studied fashion design in France and worked as a designer there before moving back to China to be full-time blogger in 2022. She shot to fame over the past three years thanks to her wacky chatting style.

She lost 440,000 followers in the 24 hours after her videos were exposed as fakes.

“Bloggers striving for online traffic should not ignore the law or the society’s bottom lines. The internet is still governed by law. Those challenging the law or regulations will be punished by law,” CCTV said in an editorial about the case.

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