Over the last year or so, Beijing-based online celebrity Liu Qikun has noticed a significant drop in his income from videos: from as high as RMB 200,000 (around $30,000) a month to a few tens of thousands. Liu pursues a full-time career based around Douyin, one of China’s most popular short-video platforms.

Argentinian app star Brian O’Shea, who studies in Beijing, has seen a similar slump in the growth of followers. Back during the “golden days” of the app last year, “I got a million fans in 24 hours at some point,” he told TechNode. “Every time I would upload a jiaozi video, a dumpling video, I would get 200,000 fans,” he said, referring to the humorous clips in which he consumes unusual dumplings of his own creation.

“That was great, but now it’s slowed down because the algorithms change depending on the number of fans. So now it’s really hard for a big account to get a good promotion,” O’Shea said. While updated official figures aren’t available, his personal impression is that Chinese viewers aren’t spending as much time on Douyin as before.

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Bailey Hu

Bailey Hu is based in China’s hardware capital, Shenzhen. Her interests include local maker culture, grassroots innovation and how tech shapes society, as well as vice versa.

Wei Sheng

Wei Sheng is a Beijing-based reporter covering hardware, smartphone, and telecommunications, along with regulations and policies related to the China tech scene. Before joining TechNode, he wrote about...

Cassidy McDonald

Cassidy McDonald is a Beijing-based multimedia journalist who covers technology's effect on Chinese society. She tweets at @CMcD123.

Tony Xu

Tony Xu is Shanghai-based tech reporter. Connect with him via e-mail: tony.xu@technode.com