Chinese KOL criticized for accepting cash tips while live-streaming from a rescue boat during severe floods
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Chinese KOL criticized for accepting cash tips while live-streaming from a rescue boat during severe floods

It soon emerged that an internet star surnamed Zhang, also known as “Dabao in Liuzhou” and with over 230,000 followers on Douyin, had been live streaming from a lifeboat and receiving tips online.

Zhang wore a life jacket and used beauty filters during the broadcast.

Zhang did not regret her actions during the floods, which were among the worst in recent memory. Photo: Douyin

During the live broadcast, she kept the camera focused on herself the entire time instead of the rescue operations and the flood.

It is unclear how long Zhang streamed live or how much she earned in tips from viewers.

After complaints from people observing her, the rescue team asked her to leave the boat.

However, the controversy continued.

On July 7, the Blue Sky Rescue Team released a statement explaining that the influencer was invited by a captain surnamed Zhao “to document the rescue process and actions taken.”

However, they discovered that the influencer’s social media account was private and did not show scenes of the large-scale rescue operation they had hoped for.

At that point, Zhang “decided” to leave the boat.

“The tips she received during the live broadcast have nothing to do with our organization,” the rescue team added.

The influencer told Zonglan News that she is friends with members of the rescue team and confirmed that she was invited to live stream the operation.

As the controversy intensified, Zhang said it was technically difficult to disable the live streaming tip feature while she was on the boat, adding that she had to focus the camera on herself to avoid violating the platform’s rules.

“I held my phone with one hand and gripped the railing with the other. The speed of the boat prevented the guidance function from being turned off, while still ensuring my personal safety,” she said.

“The live broadcast was only half an hour long, and I barely got any tips,” Zhang added.

As floods submerged landmarks in the area, Zhang focused the live broadcast camera on herself. Photo: Douyin

The non-apologetic influencer also said: “People can say whatever they want. If you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to fear.”

Her attitude sparked anger online.

“The rescue scene has turned into an influencer show to make money off tips, which is truly disgusting!” said one online observer.

While another added: “The problem is that taking one more person on the lifeboat means saving one less person! The rescue team were unprofessional.”

“The rescue scene is not a live broadcast room. Please show respect for the rescue operation,” said a third.