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Misinformation Cascades on WeChat

With 889 million monthly active users, WeChat has more than triple the user base of Snapchat and half that of Facebook. It is the most prominent social media platform in mainland China, and evidently, it was a primary avenue for pro-Trump sentiments and mobilization, particularly for first-generation Chinese immigrants.

With features similar to that of other social media apps, WeChat has the capacity for viral dissemination. Thus, it is not surprising that it spread misinformation both during and after the 2016 election. Anti-Hilary memes and various conspiracy theories found their way to the mobile messaging platform, and much “fake news” spread throughout the platform and across other platforms, causing an information cascade.

There have been many other occurrences of social media propagating fake and misleading news, which says a lot about the current status of social media platforms like WeChat. People tend to rely more on what they see on their mobile apps than on credible news sources, which can lead to “misinformation cascades.” Such information cascades are created when some people start to believe that the misinformation is true, and with the help of the rapid spread of content in social media, more and more people start to believe it is true as well. Based on comments, replies, and other posts, users can be led to believe the misinformation since so many others are believing it, regardless of his/her preexisting notions of the matter. Thus, these misinformation cascades can blur the line between fake and real news.

 

Source: https://www.cjr.org/tow_center/wechat-misinformation-china.php

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