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    9-Fingered Rapper Hit With 5-Year Streaming Ban

    Li Jingze had hoped to dispel sex scandal rumors by severing his finger during a video broadcast, to the shock and horror of his live viewers.

    A Chinese rapper has been banned from domestic streaming platforms for five years after he cut off his finger during a live broadcast late Monday night. Prior to the gory act, he had delivered an impassioned denial of rumors that he was sleeping with female fans.

    The day after the incident, the livestreaming department of the China Association of Performing Arts — a government office under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism — announced the blacklisting of 24-year-old Li Jingze, a rapper from the northwestern Shaanxi province who also uses the stage name Beibei. According to the association, Li joins over 50 other livestreamers who have been “banned from registering and livestreaming on all domestic livestreaming platforms for a five-year period.”

    During a broadcast on Yizhibo, a popular Chinese livestreaming platform, Li said he was being cyberbullied amid rumors that he was having sex with his female fans. To prove to his viewers that his conscience was clear, Li severed his own finger with two chops of a knife.

    After doing the deed off-camera, Li holds his hand up for his viewers, his little finger a bloody stump. According to screenshots from the broadcast that were later circulated online, the viewers reacted in horror with comments like “Oh my god,” “Stop this,” and “This is disgusting” — along with other, more profane exclamations.

    Li had over 700,000 followers on Yizhibo before the platform blocked his account following the incident. It is unclear how many were watching at the time.

    On Tuesday, the incident went viral on Chinese social media, with nearly a dozen trending hashtags viewed hundreds of millions of times on microblogging platform Weibo. Many netizens criticized Li for committing such a disturbing act in a public forum. “This has caused panic all over the internet!” one Weibo user commented under a related media post. “Netizens are the real victims here,” wrote another.

    A representative from Yizhibo confirmed to domestic media that the ban of Li’s account will be permanent. The rapper has joined 58 other livestreamers on the government blacklist — including Her Majesty Qiao Biluo, who made headlines in July after the video filter she had been using to alter her appearance stopped working during a live broadcast, revealing an average, middle-aged face, to the dismay of her high-tipping male fans. The ignominious web personalities are being punished for using the medium of livestreaming to spread vulgar information, generate malicious hype, disrupt public order, or conduct illegal activities, according to the association’s notice.

    China’s booming livestreaming industry has long been viewed as an online niche where anything goes, as both platforms and policymakers struggle to keep up with its growth. In November 2016, the county’s cyberspace authority issued a regulation stating that livestreamers must not engage in any activity that disrupts social order, infringes on the rights and interests of others, spreads pornography, or endangers national security. Nonetheless, to stand out from their peers in the battle for clicks and comments, many livestreamers continue to push the proverbial envelope with sensationalized content.

    Some netizens and media outlets see the finger-chopping incident as a strong argument for stricter policing of video platforms, and are calling for a “clean livestreaming environment” free of violence and explicit content.

    “Platforms must be prepared for any unexpected, extreme behavior that might occur during livestreaming,” read a commentary Wednesday in The Beijing News. “Cyberspace is a public place, and any words or deeds that pollute it should be condemned.”

    Editor: David Paulk.

    (Header image: Li Jingze, a rapper from Shaanxi province, performs in Shanghai, Dec. 22, 2017. IC)