A social media influencer died soon after live-streaming himself drinking several bottles of strong alcohol on China’s version of TikTok, state-run media in the country are reporting, in a development likely to renew debate about how to regulate the industry.
The influencer “Sanqiange” (or “Brother Three Thousand”) was found dead just hours after broadcasting himself taking part in a competition with a fellow influencer which involved drinking Baijiu, a Chinese spirit with a typical alcohol content of between 30% to 60%, Shangyou News reported.
One of his friends told the outlet that Sanqiange – identified by his real-life surname of Wang – had taken part in an online challenge known as “PK” against another influencer in the early hours of May 16 and live-streamed the results on his Douyin channel.
“PK” challenges involve one-on-one battles in which influencers compete with each other to win rewards and gifts from viewers, and often involve punishments for the loser – apparently in this case, drinking Baijiu.
“I don’t know how much he had consumed before I tuned in. But in the latter part of the video, I saw him finish three bottles before starting on a fourth,” the friend, identified only as Zhao, told Shangyou News.
“The PK games ended at around 1 a.m. and by 1 p.m., (when his family found him) he was gone,” he added.
Wang, described as a “decent and straightforward” person by Zhao, had a history of filming himself taking part in similar contests involving alcohol and posting them on the app.
A video appearing to show Wang taking part in his final challenge went viral on Chinese social media, but is no longer available for viewing.
In recent years, the country’s booming live-streaming scene has given rise to a multibillion-dollar industry, in which influencers with an entrepreneurial spirit compete to sell their products in real time on social media platforms.
Wang’s death is likely to add to a debate surrounding the regulation of the industry, which has attracted attention from authorities in recent years due to the lavish lifestyles of some streamers and the offbeat challenges they take part in.
Last year, the country’s broadcasting authorities banned youngsters under the age of 16 from tipping streamers and restricted their access after 10 p.m.
China’s National Video and Television Administration and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism have also moved to ban “31 misbehaviors by livestreamers.”
Among those misbehaviors are “encouraging users to interact in vulgar ways or inciting fans to attack with rumors,” according to the state media outlet Global Times.