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One of the user’s classroom videos drew more than 116,000 likes and 19,000 comments on Douyin. (Picture: 六安人论坛 on WeChat)

TikTok user faces backlash for pretending to be a teacher in classroom stunt

Stunts for attention on rapidly-growing short video apps are getting people into trouble, or worse

This article originally appeared on ABACUS

Short video apps are full of “creative” stunts performed to draw eyeballs. One Chinese user apparently thought a great stunt would be presenting herself as an attractively-dressed primary school teacher.

A user on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, triggered wide criticism online after making videos of herself posing as a primary school teacher dressed in high heels and a short skirt. The local education bureau said the user trespassed on school grounds during its lunch hour, entered a sixth grade classroom and asked students to play along.

TikTok, the viral short video sensation, has its roots in China

In her videos, the students are seen rising from their seats to greet her as she enters the classroom and waving along as she sings.

The videos drew attention from state-run newspaper People’s Daily, which commented on Weibo that classrooms are not “a showroom for acting coquettishly.” It added that such “absurd Douyin hosts” who want attention so badly are not rare.
Douyin said it has banned the user, and that it has always cracked down on users and content that go against public order and good customs.

One of the user’s classroom videos drew more than 116,000 likes and 19,000 comments on Douyin. (Picture: 六安人论坛 on WeChat)

Short video apps saw explosive growth last year in China, and users are still addicted to them. Mary Meeker’s latest internet trends report shows that short video apps remain the fastest growing app category in China, in terms of both daily active users and time spent using them each day. By the end of 2018, China had nearly 648 million short video users, about 78% of all internet users in the country, according to the latest internet report by CNNIC.
The dozens of short video apps in China are a sea of video clips of people singing, dancing or performing funny stunts. So some users go to extreme lengths to stand out. Compared to the woman masquerading as a teacher, some of the stunts have ended much worse for the people involved.
In February, a 28-year-old male user on Kuaishou decided to make a video of himself jumping into a river because some people said that his videos were not exciting enough, according to local media. He only had a few hundred followers at the time, but he told the person filming the video that he won’t have to go to work anymore once he’s popular. He dove head first into what turned out to be shallow water and died from head and chest injuries.
In a less traumatic example, one popular female user was called out by state media after people discovered the hard-working concrete worker she presented herself as in her videos was a facade. In real life, she drives a Lamborghini.
Another user, an 18-year-old male, transferred more than 1,000 phone calls from his followers to China’s 110 police hotline while live streaming. He was reportedly detained for six days.
Users and videos considered inappropriate are constantly censored on short video apps, but many in China still worry that fame from silly stunts on short video apps could negatively affect young users. One report by Xinhua last year said that more than half of the people born after 1995 picked “online celebrity” and “live streaming host” as their top career choices.

For more insights into China tech, sign up for our tech newsletters, subscribe to our Inside China Tech podcast, and download the comprehensive 2019 China Internet Report. Also roam China Tech City, an award-winning interactive digital map at our sister site Abacus.