While a 16-year-old was busy picking up 3 million USD in the Fortnite World Cup recently, users on China’s Twitch-like Douyu platform were preoccupied with another supposedly young gaming star. An apparent glitch “accidentally” unmasked Qiaobiluo Dianxia (乔碧萝殿下) not as the young 20-something many of her 130,000 fans thought her to be, but as a 58-year-old granny.
The woman behind the account had been careful to obscure her face with cartoon graphics or simply point the camera to below her neck. Her videos came with a cutesy voice and her account regularly posted photos of younger women purporting to be the host. But Qiaobiluo Dianxia’s true identity was revealed when one of the anime stickers meant to cover her head disappeared during a live broadcast with another livestreamer:
While some users complained of being duped, Qiaobiluo Dianxia’s followers leapt to over 880,000. Douyu allows viewers to reward their favorite hosts with “gifts”, and reports in Chinese media suggest that Qiaobiluo Dianxia accrued as much as 35,000RMB following the reveal.
The story quickly went viral in China. But rather than becoming a happy tale about subverting ageist views or the making of a new gaming icon, things took a turn for the worse when Douyu announced that an “internal investigation” had confirmed suspicions that the whole incident had been a carefully-planned marketing exercise.
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In the early hours of August 1, Douyu declared that it had shut down Qiaobiluo Dianxia’s account.
“In response to the inappropriate comments made by the anchor, challenging the public bottom line and causing adverse social impact, the platform [has decided] from now on, the livestreaming space of Qiaobiluo Dianxia will be closed permanently, all relevant videos will be removed, and the anchor’s personal account will be closed.”
The statement continued: “Douyu has been adhering to the socialist core values, resolutely opposing malicious cyber hype and other acts, and actively promoting the positive energy of the network.”
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