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Allegedly staged 'lost and found' video draws warning

By JIANG CHENGLONG | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-22 09:38

Analysts have warned that newslike videos of allegedly staged incidents, which have garnered significant social attention, could disrupt social order, after a widely circulated short video claiming to have found booklets of homework left behind in Paris by a first grade Chinese student triggered an extensive search for the student on Chinese social media.

On Friday, blogger ThurmanMaoyibei posted a video on various social media platforms showing a waiter in a Parisian restaurant handing over two notebooks containing first grade winter vacation homework, which had been left in the restroom.

The blogger revealed partial personal information about the homework's owner — a first grade student named Qin Lang from Class Eight — without specifying the school, and expressed her intention to return the homework to China and its rightful owner.

The video quickly sparked heated discussions on Chinese social media, with viewership on Sina Weibo reaching 2.29 million, and triggered a nationwide search for "Qin Lang".

In the video's comment section on Douyin, a user claiming to be Qin's uncle said Qin was attending Xichang elementary school. The comment attracted more than 220,000 likes.

However, multiple local media outlets reached out to several primary schools named Xichang, and all reported that no student matching the information attended their schools.

That led to widespread skepticism among Chinese netizens, suspecting the user of spreading false information.

Subsequently, the Douyin account claiming to be Qin's uncle was banned, with its page indicating that the account was prohibited from being followed due to a violation of community guidelines.

On Monday, the blogger who initially posted the video released another video, claiming that she had contacted Qin's mother, who did not agree to appear on camera to speak publicly, and declared the matter "successfully concluded".

On Tuesday, CCTV.com, the online media outlet affiliated to China Media Group, published a commentary warning that some bloggers, in their pursuit of popularity and viewership by challenging public order and morals, will "ultimately backfire in their pursuit".

"The internet is not a lawless place, and actions challenging legal regulations will be sanctioned by law," it said.

Zhao Liangshan, a senior partner at Shaanxi Hengda Law Firm, said that bloggers staging incidents to attract followers could cause unsuspecting fans to imitate such actions, thereby disturbing social order and causing significant harm to society, according to a report by news website ThePaper.cn.

According to China's Public Security Administration Punishments Law, those who spread rumors, falsely report dangers, epidemics, police situations, or deliberately disturb public order in other ways, shall be detained for five to 10 days and may also be fined up to 500 yuan ($70).

If the circumstances are relatively minor, they shall be detained for not more than five days or fined not more than 500 yuan.

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