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09-Aug-2020 13:51

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.

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.

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.

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 divergence in issue priorities—without counteracting narratives—leaves room for misinformation to fester around dominant topics on We Chat.

Political discourse on We Chat can be described as asymmetrically polarized, with the right leading in volume, reach, and skewed issue agenda.

Local news and information outlets contribute heavily to the spread of misinformation.