Lisa Li: Angry landlord exposes online star’s ‘double life’

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A social media influencer in China has been exposed for living a “double life”, after her landlord exposed her filthy living conditions, which contrasted with the glamorous image she presented online.

Footage went viral showing the apartment of Lisa Li – a blogger with 1.1 million followers – littered with rubbish, mouldy food, and dog excrement.

Since the footage was published, Ms Li has apologised.

Why was Ms Li famous?

Lisa Li is known in China as a “wang hong”, or “online celebrity”, on the popular Sina Weibo microblog.

Her account, like that of many young Chinese influencers, is a glossy catalogue of travel adventures, parties and fine-dining experiences.

But since her landlord gave media a tour of her apartment in the northern city of Xi’an, she has become famous for different reasons.

What did her landlord do?

After Lisa Li seemingly ignored a number of phone calls, millions of users watched her landlord, named by media as Ms Chen, give a guided tour of her filthy apartment.

Ms Chen told Pear Video that even professional cleaners had refused to clean the place, adding that her tenant owed thousands of yuan in unpaid utility bills.

Ms Chen said that she had no choice but to contact the police about the damage to her property and the unpaid utilities.

But she particularly got social media attention for showing her tenant’s Weibo page to the outlet, saying: “This is an online influencer with one million followers.”

She told Pear Video in a passionate interview the “beautiful woman” being presented online contrasted with the “disgusting” woman who left her apartment in a mess.

How did Ms Li react?

After millions of people saw the footage inside Ms Li’s apartment, she suddenly resurfaced.

And rather than issuing a statement on social media, Ms Li met with her landlord to apologise in person.

“Complete responsibility lies with me on this incident,” she told Ms Chen. They were filmed shaking hands.

She explained her absence to popular news website The Paper as being the result of a tight schedule, saying that she went into hospital last week, and then went on a business trip.

She said that she had recently received a large number of messages on mobile WeChat, and had seemingly missed her landlord’s.

“I will clean now… I will even clean overnight,” she told The Paper.

How have Ms Li’s fans reacted?

Footage of Ms Li sweeping dog poo into a dustpan has shocked her fans, and led to a large amount of mockery online.

More than 60,000 users have commented on her page, many saying they were unfollowing her and calling her “fake”.

Many have also questioned her sincerity in her interviews with mainstream media. Users noted she has changed her social media handle and removed a number of earlier posts.

Is this the first time this type of thing has happened?

China is on a huge drive to push for celebrities to be “socially responsible”.

It heavily frowns on influencers not setting a good example to young followers, and has a track record of making examples of such people, arguing that stars need to be good role models and preserve a healthy online culture.

In July, a Chinese vlogger became the subject of widespread mockery, after a technical glitch during a live-stream revealed her to be a middle-aged woman, and not the young woman she had presented herself to be.

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Some “badly behaved” influencers have even received short jail terms. In October 2018, Yang Kaili, a live-streaming celebrity with tens of millions of followers, was detained for five days for “insulting” the country’s national anthem.

The live-streaming platform she used, Huya, took down her video and banned her channel, saying: “Live-streaming platforms are not above the law – the law and moral standards similarly apply there.”

BBC Monitoring reports and analyses news from TV, radio, web and print media around the world. You can follow BBC Monitoring on Twitter and Facebook.

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