Apr 20, 2018

WeChat's fake news problem hits millions of Chinese-Americans

The WeChat app icon on a mobile device. Photo: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A new report from the Tow Center for Digital Journalism examines the spread of fake news and misinformation among Chinese-American immigrant users of WeChat, Tencent's communication platform that is used by nearly 900 million people globally, including Chinese overseas.

Why it matters: Western policymakers grappling with the growing global influence of the PRC and the Chinese Communist Party have little ability to influence the content flowing through WeChat.

Among the report's findings:

  • WeChat content is disproportionally focused on affirmative action/census data disaggregation and unauthorized immigration over other topics like jobs, economy and health care.
  • "Local stories and policies especially fall prey to distorted information, when lack of local news coverage on issues of particular interest to immigrant Chinese leaves a vacuum for misinformation to flourish."
  • One example of a "fake news" headline on a platform is: “Kill a Chinese, get a green card.”
  • Read the full report.

My thought bubble: I am in several groups of mostly Chinese-American immigrants and I regularly see some crazy stuff getting posted. Another issue is that many consumers have weak English skills and so only read Chinese-language media.

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World coronavirus updates: Confirmed cases top 1.2 million

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The number of novel coronavirus cases surpassed 1.2 million worldwide Saturday night, as Spain overtook Italy as the country with the most infections outside the U.S.

The big picture: About half the planet's population is now on lockdown and the global death toll was nearing 64,800, by Sunday morning, per Johns Hopkins data.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 53 mins ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll surpasses 8,500

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 8,500 in the U.S. early Sunday, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day for the past four days, since April 1.

The big picture: President Trump said Saturday America's is facing its "toughest" time "between this week and next week." Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said U.S. deaths are expected to continue to rise during this period.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health