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We Chat’s information problem highlights the challenge of immigrant political integration, where difference in values and interests and a distinct communication system compound the distribution and consumption of misinformation.More than technological solutions, combating misinformation for immigrant audiences requires engaging with and ultimately bridging their experiences and perspectives.Although no quantitative assessment exists to date, activism by conservative Chinese Americans has been ardent and vocal, and as a curious phenomenon has already garnered the attention of mainstream media.And I do not wish to suggest that misinformation is inherently a phenomenon on the right.Both conservative and liberal discourses on We Chat centered around race relations and the ambivalent role of Chinese Americans.
But instead of the usual habitats for misinformation such as Facebook and Twitter, these examples are translations of articles found on We Chat, the ascendant mobile messaging and content publishing app among immigrant Chinese in the United States.
We Chat has a highly specific issue agenda in its coverage.
Compared to English-speaking media and immigrant Chinese media, affirmative action/census data disaggregation and unauthorized immigration are the disproportionate focus of We Chat content, while jobs, the economy, and healthcare received little attention during the period of study.
These headlines do not represent the prevailing discourse within Chinese-language news, but there is no doubt that the divisive and strident political messages in the past election cycle have found their way into the immigrant Chinese news sphere and gained an independent existence.
Their presence begs the question of what kind of misinformation exists in this space, as well as how it is generated and distributed.