Who's Bro Orange? How one Buzzfeed writer became a household name in China

This is Mr Matt Stopera, an ex-superfan of Britney Spears who lives in New York and writes for Buzzfeed:

He's also really famous in China - all because he lost his phone.

It all started at a bar in New York, where Mr Stopera's iPhone was pinched in February last year during a boozy night out with his colleagues.

The stolen gadget, after making its way across the US and the Pacific Ocean to China, was eventually acquired by a Chinese man who Mr Stopera initially dubbed the Orange Man.

Somehow, Orange Man activated Stopera's iCloud account and, possibly unknowningly, made all of his photos visible to the American in January.

The pictures were mostly of a man taking selfies with an orange tree.

After initially finding it cool that he was getting a glimpse into orange tree guy's life, Mr Stopera deleted all the data on the stolen phone and had it locked up remotely on the advice of his local Apple Store.

His friend had told him that many stolen phones ended up in China.

While Mr Stopera believed that this particular story had run its course after writing about it on Buzzfeed, China's netizens were determined to continue writing it.

They shared the story furiously and it wasn't long before Orange Man - or Uncle Orange as he was being called in China - was found - in Meizhou, Guangdong.

It became such a huge thing that someone on Weibo was offering to give Orange Man a brand new iPhone.

And when Mr Stopera, who wrote a second piece about his new-found fame in China, created a Weibo account to link up with Orange Man, who had earlier created his own account on the microblogging site under the handle which translates to "Brother Orange who doesn't sell oranges", he was swamped with followers.

Screengrab: Buzzfeed

The story has been read by at least 22 million people on Weibo.

After exchanging messages on Weibo, Mr Stopera has announced that he is getting closer to actually travelling to Meizhou to meet Bro Orange, who has offered to treat him to homemade Hakka cuisine, face-to-face.

It's amazing how one stolen phone can lead to the unlikely friendship between two complete strangers who don't even speak the same language - all thanks to the power of social media.

Oh and that of a lost phone too, of course.

Source: Buzzfeed (Part 1 | Part 2)

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