It has been almost 5 months since the AO3 scandal happened, which resulted in an angry mob of netizens, constant fan wars, cyber bullying, and the tarnished reputation of a rising celebrity, Xiao Zhan (肖战). While many celebrities have returned to work in full force, Xiao Zhan’s public schedules have recently revolved around doing charity and public welfare work.
Xiao Zhan Continues to Suffer Backlash from the AO3 Controversy
When Xiao Zhan issued an apology in April about the events that transpired stemming from the AO3 incident, it seemed like things were starting to turn around with public opinion. However, certain netizens are intent on bringing Xiao Zhan down like accusing him of making fake donations, creating fake rumors, pretending to be his fans and causing trouble, lodging complaints and boycotts to his business partners, or his fans allegedly causing LOFTER to be taken down from app stores.
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These setbacks have hindered Xiao Zhan from resuming his main line of work including his scenes not airing on a variety show and a photoshoot that was not released. Anything he or his fans do are magnified by netizens and the media. Back in June, a netizen was verbally attacked for criticizing Xiao Zhan. His lawyers reached out to this person offering legal assistance despite their stance on Xiao Zhan. Xiao Zhan’s studio and lawyers stated regardless of who is being attacked, people should be responsible for their words and showed support for victims of cyber bullying.
The most recent incident was on July 9, involving a person claiming to be a Xiao Zhan fan who was using a deceased person’s Weibo account. Xiao Zhan’s fan club said they contacted this person and claims they accidentally bought a Weibo account from a deceased person who had suffered from depression. His fan club apologized on that person’s behalf. Due to the heated debate and sensitivity around the issue, Weibo’s community administrator stepped in and performed their own investigation. Based on their investigation and communication with the user, it appears there was no deceased person. This person was lying and operated three accounts to gain attention. Xiao Zhan’s fans were glad he was vindicated, but felt Xiao Zhan should get an apology.
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Weibo’s discussion with Xiao Zhan’s studio
Because of the “deceased person” Weibo account incident on July 9, it led to Weibo stepping in. On July 14, Weibo’s community administrator account announced Weibo engaged in a discussion with Xiao Zhan Studio on July 9 regarding “the guidance of fans and management related issues”. Weibo issued the following statement regarding this matter:
“Weibo believes influential public figures and celebrities should bear the duty of being responsible for guiding and restricting the behavior of fans, mainly through their official fan groups. However, in the recent months, due to the failure to effectively guide and respond to various fan groups, it resulted in the appearance of a series of disturbances in the order of online communication, creating adverse social impacts.
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Weibo recommends the staff of celebrity studios should reinforce their ability to positively guide and restrain fan groups. For unofficial fan groups who conduct inappropriate behavior in the name of celebrities, they need to take the initiative to report them on the platform and cooperate with the platform’s management. The misconduct of unofficial fan groups are suspected of breaking the law. We mustn’t turn a blind eye and must have the courage to speak up, defend your rights, and fulfill the utmost legal responsibility.
Xiao Zhan Studio expressed their agreement in Weibo’s recommendations and clearly stated from here on, they will actively cooperate and support the platform’s management of issues surrounding official and unofficial fan groups.
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This time’s in depth communication demonstrated the website’s determination and the platform’s neutral and open attributes in the restraint of the promotion of hostile behavior and maintaining the order of the community and online communication. We will continue to expand discussions with even more management companies and use all our efforts to build a good online environment.”
Weibo also included a list of accounts that were terminated based on the community guidelines due to the account holders’ attack on media outlets and the spread of false information that led to online wars.
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Xiao Zhan Studio’s apology
Xiao Zhan’s studio also issued a long apology letter in response to the discussion they had with Weibo. The letter started off saying they completely agree with Weibo pointing out the studio’s various issues and the negative impacts resulting from those issues. They also expressed their deepest apologies.
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The studio also apologized for the following: “In the absence of positive guidance of fans, various reasons that led to disputes, not providing a timely and accurate response at the first minute, which led to poor social perceptions, resulted in opposition of different groups in social media, made innocent netizens encounter attacks and abuse, brought trouble to related departments and everyone’s work. Regarding this, we express our sincere apologies to everyone and say to everyone, “Sorry!”.
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During the process of our serious reflection, we also believe the various reasons for the creation of today’s situations largely comes from us. Regarding online attacks, regardless who the attackers were, like what the announcement mentioned, some of them were really Xiao Zhan’s fans, some were alt (xiaohao) accounts acting in the name of Xiao Zhan’s fans. What can’t be denied is that Xiao Zhan Studio’s negligence and absence in managing fans contributed to a portion of “Xiao Zhan fans'” bad behavior on the internet. At the same time, it also left the public with a negative impression of the “Xiao Zhan fans” group.
Regarding the opposition among groups, Xiao Zhan Studio’s handling of the few sudden incidents was not calm enough, not cautious enough, objectively misled fans, and triggered an even larger scale in conflicts and contradictions.
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Regarding Xiao Zhan’s fan circle’s positive guidance, even though we have continued to carry it out since we started from March 1, but because the studio didn’t do enough and didn’t consider comprehensively, it led to the limited effect everyone sees so far. However, we will continue carrying out this item of work. Mr. Xiao Zhan and the studio clearly delivers their attitude: We reject fighting and abuse towards each other, reject instigating groups to oppose each other, firmly oppose minors’ behavior of irrational spending, as well as any purpose to harm others.
Having a heathy online environment requires everyone to jointly maintain it. Xiao Zhan Studio, as one of the members, deeply knows all the responsibilities and obligations to fulfill. As for this time’s incident bringing worries to everyone, trouble and even anger, we apologize once again. We will use a positive attitude to guide fans, restrain the promotion of hostile behavior and maintain the order of the community and online communication.”
21 thoughts on “Xiao Zhan’s Studio Issues Apology and Takes Blame for Not Guiding His Fans Well”
Strange, where is the platform’s accountability in allowing a user to create 3 accounts and using them unethically? Can’t believe their response is to blame the actor who doesn’t have the visibility they have of both official and unofficial fans and anti fan accounts. What’s he meant to do – spend his life monitoring all the digital media platforms. Underwhelming response following their investigation
What a scapegoat, since when an idol have to take blames for the fans (or antis pretends to be fans) actions, people he doesn’t even know. The parents, the teachers, the social as a whole should take the blame before an actor should. The adults are responsible for their own actions. This cyberbullying should stop right now.
In another thought, there are about a dozen series coming through the pipeline, all about boy/boy love, they have to get rid of Xiao Zhan to absorb his large fan base.
I think the circumstances are clear that this is no normal incident but a setup since March 1, like that fake account. Due to malicious competition in the Chinese entertainment industry, they have led to downfall of a positive, world famous Chinese actor. That Chinese laws can’t protect a torchbearer for their culture from these hounds of rival production houses, the whole of Chinese law and culture looks toothless and limp.
Social media platforms should have some moral and ethical guidelines to monitor users. Constructive comments are fine but malicious, slanderous or fake comments aren’t.
Xiao Zhan got very popular through his passion, dedication, hard work and perseverance; he is simply doing what he loves. He shouldn’t be blamed nor should he take the blame for the incidents. He had requested numerous times for people to behave rationally.
All this bullying has to stop! The toxic effects of stardom and fame can sometimes hurt to the point of no return. The mental stress is too much for any person to bear.
Hopefully, people will get on with their normal lives and let the artists do their job. Follow and worship when you love them; ignore or leave them alone if you don’t. Life is too short, spread love not hate.
“WE ARE MADE TO LOVE”. May you find strengths in your own song Xiao Zhan and continue to be the beautiful Spotlight in this world. Keep well, stay humble and kind. God will bless and keep you in his tender care 🙏
Well said 👍🏻
Very well said indeed! Xiao Zhan jiayou! 💪💪💪💪💪
What beautiful words ❤️
This basically happened because some homophobic person was on AO3, for some apparent specific reasons that are obvious to the mind, and got butthurt when they saw someone wrote something explicit about XZ, but with a male. If it were a female, would it have gotten so out of hand? These people who pretend to be fans, are probably searching for something to bring him down, and they found it. I haven’t been keeping up completely with the story, but people, in general, be it fan, anti-fan, or just someone who appreciates the artist, we’re all the problem. Expressing hate at all is. Horrible. Going OUT of your way to do it is even worse. This whole thing has been going too far too fast. My heart goes out to XZ, though he may be sailing through it, this ocean is vast with lots of waves. I just hope he can come out of this ALIVE. Like, come ON y’all.
I don’t think he’s responsible for the actions of other people’s behavior. Adults need to be accountable for their individual actions, and minors are the responsibility of their parents. If a celebrity isn’t promoting negative behavior they shouldn’t be held responsible. Good citizenship and good morals start at home. Parents are the guardians of their children’s moral character. The only responsibility of a public figure to guide fans is to publicly carry him/herself in a positive manner and positively give back to the society that supported him/her. It’s what all individuals should do.
These social media platforms need to incorporate morality clauses in their subscriber terms of usage whether it’s under one’s actual name or not. If a subscriber abuses anyone or promotes a negative agenda, he/she should be banned from that site. Accountability belongs to the individual or source of the discord. Xiao Zhan did not participate in any of the negative behaviors, he was an unwilling target. All the social media platforms bear responsibility for not incorporating morality terms in their subscriber process. This goes far beyond the Xiao Zhan incident and should have been addressed when cyberbullying first took root.
Xiao Zhan deserves to pursue his career and goals unhampered by hate, bullying, or the burden of overseeing a massive fan base. His life needs to resume a normal pattern he is comfortable establishing, and this hot mess needs to disintegrate back into the blackhole that sprouted it. Blessings to Xiao Zhan.
I agree with you. This is so wrong to blame Xiao Zhan.
Very well said. Completely agree with you.
True. Xiao Zhan is an artist, a source of inspiration but not a guardian of his fans. This “job” is too burdensome for him. Come on, we need his films and songs to inspire us, to warm our hearts overall. That he still finds time for public welfare activities and his charities makes me wonder about his private life – does he sleep and eat well with loved ones? Gee, give this kid a break.
Totally agree! I feel so sorry for Xiao Zhan.. he doesn’t deserve all of this bullying
Yes! Very true. It’s sad that’s not always the case …
So sad for Xiao zhan for these endless incidents,,, i just hope hes ok
all of these happened because of his homophobic fans (some not all). if they only minded their own business and not report that fanfic, all of these could’ve been avoided. unfortunately, he is the face of his fandom and he’s the one who is getting the hate that he DO NOT deserve! he’s one of the nicest people and he’s suffering from what they did. although i get his stance that he cannot tell his fans what to do but sometimes you need to call them out. he also needs to sue his haters! just because you sue them doesn’t make you a bad person. you just need to give a lesson that you cannot do that just because you can hide behind a keyboard. good for him that he hired lawyers now. this should be a lesson for all fandoms, what you do reflects back to your idol. we want them all the best but we also need to know that they are all damn adults and know what they are doing. we do not need to baby them.
With regards to the deceased weibo account, weibo themselves released the investigation results that revealed the user lied about being depressed and suicidal and was very much still alive, which is singularly such a twisted thing to do – to use mental health issues to stage personal drama and for what??
While I agree that rules should be (and probably are) in place for Weibo accounts, that shouldn’t make the responsibility of how fans act be on the studio. If fans are using Weibo accounts against policy, they need to be shut down. Xiao Zhan is not responsible for babysitting his fans. He was not responsible for what happened with AO3, someone else complained about an author’s submission. I suppose China does not have a freedom of speech policy on media, but that does not make ANY of the issues Xiao Zhan’s fault!
Totally agree with you
It’s good that they apologise.but don’t take all the blame.were all adults here.we should know the pros and cons.