The mysterious person behind the popular English-language WeChat account 'Shameless,' which was shut down by censors earlier this year, has been revealed as a 26-year-old blogger and Beijing resident.
“It didn’t dawn on me how serious the situation was,” Laura Lian told Bloomberg. “I didn’t realize I was never getting back this account and all my followers.”
With the motto "If it doesn't make you laugh, you just don't get the joke," Shameless gained notoriety for its humourous articles targeted at expats and locals alike. One of its most popular articles poked fun at the types of laowai you are likely to encounter in Beijing. Her posts, which often received over a million pageviews, covered everything from the different types of Chinese significant others, how to drink with Chinese people and Spring Festival survival techniques. You can see a full archive on the Tumblr version of the account here (VPN required).
“The blog wasn’t intended to be serious, what I wanted was to humor people and then if they realized that these perceptions existed and that people saw things differently that would be great,” she said.
Lian told Bloomberg that at the height of her blogging career with the account, she had 220,000 followers, was earning upwards of RMB50,000 (USD7,000) in advertising per month and had backing from an investor. She earned enough in revenue from the account that she was able to quit her full-time job in public relations.
But that all came crashing down after an article she posted in May poking fun at the hairstyles of Chinese men drew attention from WeChat censors. The article referenced Jiang Zemin.
The joke apparently went too far for the censors. The account was swiftly shut down, all articles scrubbed from existence entirely. Overnight, Lian lost nearly a quarter of a million followers.
Lian eventually opened up another version of the account, this time called 'Shameless Plus' (WeChat ID: ShamelessPlus). The account has gained a modest 10,000 fans since launching in June.
“Getting all my fans back is turning out to be much harder than I imagined,” Lian told Bloomberg. “But I already lost 220,000 fans, why would I fear losing just a few thousand?”