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Homework video from Paris was fabricated

By YANG ZEKUN | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-15 10:15
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The Ministry of Public Security has debunked a video that sparked a nationwide search after it was widely circulated on social media.

The video, depicting homework booklets supposedly lost by a Chinese first grader in Paris, was revealed to be a meticulously crafted ploy for online attention.

The ministry's expose was part of a broader effort to combat online rumors. On Friday, it presented details of 10 prominent cases, highlighting the Paris homework incident as a prime example.

The video was uploaded in February by a blogger surnamed Xu, from Zhejiang province. It showed a Parisian restaurant worker supposedly returning homework found in a restroom. The video said the homework belonged to Qin Lang from Class Eight, without specifying the school. That sparked a social media frenzy, with many netizens attempting to locate the child.

However, the narrative quickly unraveled. A user claiming to be Qin Lang's uncle appeared in the comments section, providing an unverified school name. Subsequent investigations revealed the person making the comment, a person surnamed Yang from Jiangsu province, was another participant in the scheme to gain online attention and was not related to Xu.

Further investigation by authorities exposed the entire charade. Police discovered that Xu, along with her company director, surnamed Xue, scripted the video, purchased generic homework booklets online and staged the entire scene.

Facing administrative penalties and demands for public apologies, Xu admitted her initial lack of "legal awareness" but expressed remorse for the widespread attention and disruption caused by the video. Her social media accounts, boasting millions of followers across many platforms, have been suspended.

The incident underscores China's intensifying efforts to combat online misinformation.

In December, the ministry launched a nationwide campaign against online rumors. Over 80,000 leads and 10,000 cases have been investigated, with over 1,500 suspects apprehended and 10,700 individuals facing administrative penalties.

The ministry has vowed to continue its crackdown, targeting individuals who spread rumors, fabricate news or exploit trending topics for personal gain. Law enforcement authorities will increase inspections of major social media, livestreaming and short video platforms to identify and address malicious online activity.

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