Web Celeb Detained for Redirecting Fans’ Calls to Police Hotline
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2017-03-02 10:33:59

A Chinese internet celebrity recently found out that fame has its price — especially when your phone number is leaked to millions of idolatrous fans.

His days were soon filled with his phone’s incessant ringing. Annoyed, he decided to reclaim his calm and patch his fans through to 110, the emergency number for China’s police. But he got more peace and quiet than he bargained for when the authorities detained him for six days, provincial broadcaster Zhejiang Satellite Television reported Wednesday.

The suspect, a 19-year-old man identified only by his surname, Wang, has 7 million fans on live-streaming app Kuaishou who regularly tune in to his channel. According to a statement by local police, the trouble started on Feb. 18, when Wang unknowingly tapped on a malicious link sent to him via messaging app WeChat that ended up posting his phone number online.

When Wang’s fans found out about the leak, his phone started to ring more than usual — and didn’t stop. “One call per second made me totally unable to live-stream,” he said during the TV interview.

When Wang routed all calls from unknown numbers to the police hotline of Jinhua City in eastern China’s Zhejiang province, the emergency department was bombarded with 1,000 calls in just half an hour. Upon discovering the source of the calls, police called Wang in for questioning on Feb. 24.

Wang told the police that he “just wanted to stop them from calling me,” according to the statement. “When [the police] came for me, I started to realize the severity of the issue.”

Wang is far from the only live-streamer to have found himself in hot water. Last November, a female broadcaster was sentenced to four years in jail for a lewd video, and a man was detained for pretending to take drugs on his live stream. Then in December, another broadcaster was detained for live-streaming himself making an insulting phone call to police in Wenzhou, another city in Zhejiang.

Wang was served an administrative detention for disrupting the unit’s order, based on the rule that harassing police with intentional false alarms is a punishable offense. The authorities say they receive enough phone calls that don’t lead anywhere as it is. Last year in Zhejiang province, some 13 million emergency calls — more than half — turned out to be false alarms.

On Thursday morning, Wang posted on his Weibo microblog account, “Finally, I am out.” Many net users who had seen the news on TV left him unsympathetic comments. “Six days of detention is too little — you should stay there forever,” said one Weibo user.

Editor: Kevin Schoenmakers.

(Header image: Emergency hotline operators take phone calls at a dispatch center in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, Jan. 7, 2015. Zhou Jianshi/VCG)