Fake news is not only plaguing Facebook and Twitter, it is also infiltrating Chinese American immigrants’ favorite social platform WeChat. A new report from the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism has analyzed content on WeChat aimed at Chinese speakers in the US. The survey analyzed 25 WeChat official accounts.

The analysis found several worrying trends among WeChat outlets focusing on the Chinese population in the US. Unlike English media and mainstream Chinese media, WeChat publishers tended to favor controversial topics such as unauthorized immigration and race relations instead of topics like jobs, the economy, and healthcare. Researchers also found that news published on WeChat was rife with sensationalism and misinformation.

“Low barrier to entry on WeChat has generated a profusion of content publishers native to the platform and intense competition for attention, the report states. “The abundance of revenue-driven content published, coupled with partisan forces, makes WeChat especially vulnerable to political misinformation. Emotionally stirring, sensational stories become amplified through the replication and embellishment of a long tail of WeChat outlets, which creates repetition and familiarity.

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Masha Borak

Masha Borak is a technology reporter based in Beijing. Write to her at masha.borak [at] technode.com. Pitches with the word "disruptive" will be ignored. Read a good book - learn some more adjectives.