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Chinese Influencer Comes Under Fire As AI Course Sales Scandal Unfolds

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Chinese Influencer Comes Under Fire As AI Course Sales Scandal Unfolds

A prominent Chinese social media influencer who goes by “Li Yizhou” is facing intense scrutiny over claims he made millions of yuan selling artificial intelligence training courses online. New findings expose potential issues with the online persona’s background and the quality of the AI courses he marketed and sold.

Li Yizhou, who claims to hold a Ph.D. from the prestigious Tsinghua University, reportedly generated sales of around 50 million yuan (~ $7 million) by selling an “Everyone’s AI Course” through the popular Chinese messaging platform, WeChat. 

However, the mini-program used to sell the educational material has been suspended by WeChat for violating service provisions, specifically Interim Provisions on the Development of Public Information Services for Instant Messaging Tools.

Chinese Influencer Comes Under Fire As AI Course Sales Scandal Unfolds

Data indicates Li Yizhou’s AI course sold approximately 250,000 units within a year at prices ranging from 999 yuan down to 199 yuan (~ $140 to $27). The courses have been removed from WeChat’s video account showcase and are no longer accessible on Li’s “Everyone’s AI Course” mini-program. His personal video account has also been banned.

While the mysterious influencer boasts over 5 million fans across platforms and claims expertise in AI, business models, and technology startups, his direct association with artificial intelligence appears limited based on research into his background. 

Public records show Li did obtain a Ph.D. in Industrial Design and Design Innovation Methods from Tsinghua’s School of Art and Design. His prior entrepreneurial ventures involved apps like a “Magic Mirror” personal voice assistant and an intelligent sleep solutions provider.

However, he currently only holds positions at two companies – Beijing Chiwu Technology and Beijing Yige Technology, described as a Nordic-style home design brand. The former previously secured funding from investors like Qidi Xing and Probe Investment.

As the AI course sales controversy unfolded, users began expressing dissatisfaction with the training content. One student complained to Lanjing Finance about the quality of the material. “I finished over 30 AI classes here in two days, and the most immediate feeling after finishing is wanting a refund,” he remarked.

Li Yizhou responded to online doubts about his courses on February 21. “I am organizing the corresponding content, and the situation has been misunderstood and exaggerated,” he said. But his courses have since been taken down and the program suspended.

The controversy has sparked increasing concerns around fraud and misleading marketing practices proliferating across the Chinese network. Influencers leverage their mass followings to sell courses, products, or services, often passing unvalidated.

Cecilia Carloni, Interview Manager at Influence Weekly and writer for NetInfluencer. Coming from beautiful Argentina, Ceci has spent years chatting with big names in the influencer world, making friends and learning insider info along the way. When she’s not deep in interviews or writing, she's enjoying life with her two daughters. Ceci’s stories give a peek behind the curtain of influencer life, sharing the real and interesting tales from her many conversations with movers and shakers in the space.

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