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WeChat account closed for murder comments

Writer:   |  Editor: Betty Ye  |  From:   |  Updated: 2018-05-16

A popular WeChat account aimed at female users has been shut down after being accused of posting vulgar content related to the alleged sexual assault and murder of a flight attendant by a Didi Hitch driver.

The woman, surnamed Li, 21, who worked for Lucky Airlines, used the ride-hailing app’s “hitch” service late May 5 to get from the airport to a train station in Zhengzhou, Henan Province.

She was picked up by 27-year-old driver Liu Zhenhua, who police said drove Li to a deserted spot 15 kilometers away and killed her, before dumping her partially clothed body.

The WeChat account Ergeng Shitang, or “Late Night Canteen,” which had an estimated 1 million active users, posted an article Friday that was removed within hours due to a flood of complaints from users. It allegedly made indelicate and disrespectful references to Li’s death, and many netizens said the post’s content was insensitive and inappropriate.

Police found Li’s body May 8, but did not officially release the details of how she died.

Five people, including a police support officer, were detained Saturday for posting pictures of the crime scene online. The driver jumped to his death from a bridge within an hour of the killing, police said.

CEO of Ergeng Shitang Li Ming issued an apology shortly after the article was removed and blamed the problem on poor editorial standards.

Zhejiang Province’s Internet watchdog suspended the account for one week Saturday and ordered operators to clean up any “harmful content.” However, on Sunday, parent company Ergeng Media announced it was closing the WeChat account permanently and that Li had been fired.

“We’ve made a painful mistake that has had detrimental effects on society,” the founder of Ergeng Media, Ding Feng, said in a statement. “I apologize again to the victim’s family and the public. We’re sorry for the mistake.”

In 2015, Ding acquired a subscription account set up by Li Ming, renamed it Ergeng Shitang and began focusing it on female topics.

According to online business statistics provider itjuzi.com, Ergeng Media has finished four rounds of financing, raising more than 400 million yuan (US$63.1 million).

Didi Chuxing suspended its hitch service Friday. The service allowed private drivers to pick up passengers heading in the same direction and has a less vigorous vetting process for drivers than other Didi services.

(Source: China Daily)