Chinese social network Weibo celebrates its IPO.
America isn’t the only country where fake right-wing news circulated on social media is sewing support for Donald Trump.
One of the top posts on the Chinese social networking site Weibo this week reportedly detailed how anti-Trump protesters were accosting Chinese Americans and blaming them for the president-elect’s win, according to a Twitter thread from freelance ethnographer Christine Xu.
But the only news story cited in the Weibo post a supposed interview in the Asian-American blog NextShark is nowhere to be found on the publication’s site.
A translated version of the second-hand rendering of the interview reads:
According to an interview in U.S. media outlet Nextshark, “My younger cousin grew up in the U.S. When he passed by the anti-Trump march in New York, was scolded and told to ‘Go back to your country, chink!'”
That text doesn’t appear in any of NextShark‘s posts.
In fact, the most recent Trump-related stories from the blog report mounting numbers of incidents, in which racist Trump supporters have antagonized Asian Americans sometimes in a similar manner to that described in the erroneous post.
2) More likely and much worse: 1 but willfully directed by someone(s) stoking support of Trump + defensive ethnocentrism. I can’t.
Christina Xu @ (@xuhulk) November 14, 2016
It’s possible that an article was misunderstood by the original poster a handle that translates to “Encyclopedia of American Colleges” then got relayed without its original context.
But the story may have also been intentionally misconstrued to manipulate public opinion in favor of Trump.
The account responsible for the post also lists a string of similar stories involving racial slurs, including Fusion writer Wilfred Chan’s first-person article on racist online harassment he received from Trump supporters.
While none of these subsequent stories explicitly finger anti-Trump protesters, Xu says it’s implied that they are to blame.
“It’s not too different from what’s happening on Facebook.”
Xu, who works in both China and the United States, told Mashable she’s seen many other instances in which right-wing stories that are oftentimes more or less translated versions of articles from Trump-backing conservative site Breitbart circulate widely on Chinese social media.
“[It’s] not too different from what’s happening on Facebook really,” she said in a private Twitter message.
Despite his harsh words against China and generally anti-immigrant stances, Trump is apparently still popular among certain circles in the country.
“Trump is in many ways the diametric opposite of a typical Chinese bureaucrat: brash, confrontational and unapologetically egocentric, whose main rhetorical line is that through him, you (the voter) will retrieve your lost pride in your country,” Gilliam Hamilton, head of NSBO China Policy Research in Beijing, told CNBC.
In more pragmatic terms, Trump also backs certain policies that could stand to benefit China, including his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership an Obama-backed trade deal signed by many of China’s neighbors and his criticism of longstanding security alliances like NATO.
The report comes as Facebook and other social platforms are grappling with the role that false news spread on their sites may have played in boosting Trump’s candidacy.
Facebook’s critics contend that the company needs to do a better job of vetting misinformation circulated among the site’s more than 1.5 billion users.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly insisted that hoaxes, conspiracy theories and other false news doesn’t have an effect on public opinion among users, but some of the company’s employees don’t seem as sure.