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What follows is a preliminary assessment of this Chinese-language platform and manifestations of its information problem.The conclusions drawn mirror general challenges with misinformation and polarization in the digital news ecosystem, but also highlight the specificity of the information problem for the immigrant population.Ethnic media—media produced by and for an ethnic group—plays an especially pivotal role for immigrant acculturation and integration.The cumulative evidence from the research literature suggests that ethnic media is crucial in introducing immigrants to social norms and political knowledge in their host society, while also helping immigrants to maintain connections with, and consolidate, their ethnic identity and community..This report sheds light on the nature of misinformation and political polarization in the We Chat news sphere.The conclusions drawn from this preliminary investigation into We Chat mirror more general challenges with misinformation and polarization in the digital news ecosystem, but also highlight the specificity of the information problem for the immigrant population.Executive Summary | Introduction | Methodology | An Overview of We Chat | Issue Salience | Political Polarization | Two Case Studies and Three Takeaways | The Primacy of Weak-Tie Social Curation | Conclusion and Lessons | Acknowledgments | Appendix A. While headlines with false claims such as “Illegal immigrant started wildfire in Sonoma County” mirror types of misinformation found in American, English-language media, what’s especially worrisome in information ecosystems like these is their central influence on the first-generation immigrant experience and integration with US society. As the discussion surrounding misinformation and polarization takes center stage, one space that has been largely overlooked is the Chinese media sphere within the United States, where questionable content has garnered a loyal following among Chinese-speaking immigrants.
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.
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.
In multiethnic America, overlooking non-English-speaking media in the discussion of misinformation means missing an opportunity to understand how political discourse is constructed for a significant segment of the political constituents, and to build media narratives that are sensitive and inclusive.
The added impetus for studying ethnic Chinese media stems from a rise in conservatism among first-generation Chinese.Instead, this report underscores the rise of conservatism as a significant shift in Chinese-American politics that suggests heightened polarization.