'Like a online king' - celebrity blogger Xue's story

Updated: 2013-09-15 17:44


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BEIJING - Replying to or retweeting posts on the Internet was just like a king looking after state affairs, said detained celebrity blogger Xue Charles Bi-Chuen, flaunting that he used to be busier than a minister with ceaseless invitations.

The noted venture capitalist was detained last month for alleged group sex with prostitutes. His detention sent ripples across the Chinese cyberspace as he was a star blogger with 12 million followers on Sina Weibo, Chinese leading twitter-like blogging service, and was seen as an "online crusader for justice".

'Like a online king' - celebrity blogger Xue's story

Celebrity blogger Xue Charles Bi-Chuen is interrogated after being detained over allegations of soliciting prostitution in Beijing on August 29. [Photo/CFP]

On Friday, in a Beijing detention center, the avuncular figure recalled his journey to becoming an influential online voice.

Three years ago, the Chinese-American was no a nobody on weibo with only a few thousand followers.

The Spring Festival of 2011 was his first period of amassing a huge following, he said in a talk with the police. Operating as "Xue Manzi" on weibo, at that time he promoted a campaign to help rescue abducted children, after which his number of followers leapt to several hundreds of thousands.

In May, 2011, when he announced he had been diagnosed with cancer, his microblog account was soon followed by over 1 million.

Later, Sina began to automatically recommend him, along with other celebrities including former Google China president Kai-fu Lee and actress Yao Chen, to new bloggers. He also began to frequently appear on magazine covers, television shows and at charity events.

The number of his disciples then soared to over 10 million, making Xue one of the first "big Vs with 10 million fans". "V" is a sign put at the end of the names of bloggers whose profiles are verified as genuine.

Xue said that he was very careful when reposting in the beginning. "I only wrote or reposted things within my professional field. I would not comment on news about which I did not have a knowledge of and I would always investigate the sources of news before retweeting."

But gradually he became careless and unscrupulous and was eager to forward and comment on almost anything he saw. "Cause on one side it saved time and on the other side I thought I would not be held responsible as I am not the original writer," said Xue.

"Every morning I log on my weibo account, I see thousands of messages from followers. Even a minister would not receive so many invitations from 30 provinces and cities everyday," he said, adding companies or places would soon benefit after his "recommendation."

Xue said he issued about 85,000 posts via his weibo account, including unverified information proven to be rumors later. He also posted some advertisements to make money.

"My irresponsibility in spreading information online was a vent of negative mood, and was a neglect of the social mainstream," Xue said. His sober demeanor was different from the arrogance of two weeks ago when he was taken into detention.

Referring to China's latest move to criminalize online rumors spreading,Xue said "freedom of speech cannot override the law".

According to a judicial interpretation effective on Tuesday, one could face defamation charges if online rumors he post are viewed by more than 5,000 Internet users or retweeted more than 500 times.

"It is a good beginning," said Xue, adding after several years of "wild growing," the Internet has been filled with lots of things that exceeds the legal and moral bottom lines and is in urgent need to be cleaned and put in order.

The police said they are investigating many netizens' reports that Xue's activities on the Internet involved crimes.

Xue warned other big Vs to stay alert and not to go down his road.

He offered to appear handcuffed as a negative example to publicize the online rumors crackdown.