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Chat groups, especially large ones where members are acquaintances or complete strangers connected by a common affiliation, are abundant and central in information dissemination.
At a time when mobile messaging apps are increasingly utilized for news, We Chat highlights the significance of socially driven, organically spread information mostly unaffected by algorithms and technological manipulation.
Emotionally stirring, sensational stories become amplified through the replication and embellishment of a long tail of We Chat outlets, which creates repetition and familiarity.
Misinformation inside We Chat takes on a pronounced local expression.
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.
Ethnic media—media produced by and for an ethnic group—plays an especially pivotal role for immigrant acculturation and integration.
With its massive reach, it likely shapes the landscape of political information for immigrant Chinese.
Yet, they exist very much as unknown, parallel universes for most researchers, journalists, and media watchers.
With the rise of conservatism among first-generation Chinese immigrants, one of the fastest growing populations in the United States, this media space—led by mobile platform We Chat—offers key clues to how political information and misinformation are constructed for and distributed among the emerging political constituency.
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.
The information problem on We Chat intersects with and draws rhetorical and ideological resources from both US and China-based platforms and online publics.