Matt Stopera: Stolen iPhone and a global odyssey for Buzzfeed editor

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Matt Stopera BuzzFeed editor Matt Stopera shares his viral story of his stolen iPhone.

A stolen iPhone played a pivotal role in a cross-cultural experience of a lifetime.

One year after writer Matt Stopera had his phone stolen from a New York City bar, mysterious photos of a man, in front of an orange tree, began appearing on his shared photo stream. Stopera is an editor at BuzzFeed – a New York-based social news and entertainment company. So, naturally he wrote a story about the mystery man and the orange tree for the BuzzFeed website. Almost instantly, the story went viral. It quickly gained traction on Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter.

Matt Stopera: Stolen iPhone and a global odyssey for Buzzfeed editor

Matt Stopera: Stolen iPhone and a global odyssey for Buzzfeed editor

One year after writer Matt Stopera had his phone stolen from a New York City bar, mysterious photos of a man, in front of an orange tree, began appearing on his shared photo stream. Stopera is an editor at BuzzFeed - a New York-based social news and entertainment company. So, naturally he wrote a story about the mystery man and the orange tree for the BuzzFeed website. Almost instantly, the story went viral. It quickly gained traction on Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter.

Matt says he was surprised by the attention.

“I see people go viral all the time but never in China so for that to happen to me was…what’s going on, right now, with my life?”
Social media users in China took action and decided they would help Matt track down the mystery man.

“The Chinese Internet is a totally different Internet than the American Internet and it was blowing up and I was getting all of this crazy feedback from it,” explains Matt. “So, I just knew that I needed to go to China.”

Matt Stopera joined Mike Walter in our New York studio to tell us what happened next. And, from Los Angeles Abe Forman-Greenwald, a BuzzFeed video producer joined us to discuss the soon-to-be-released documentary that chronicles their journey about finding Bro Orange.

Matt Stopera and Bro Orange

Matt Stopera and Bro Orange
PHOTO/Qingqing Chen / BuzzFeed