A major Chinese website sent a hoax to its users to fuel support for Trump in China

Source: AP
Source: AP

On Sunday night, major Chinese microblogging site Weibo sent out a push notification to all of its users that blamed the spike in racial discrimination on people protesting Donald Trump.

"Donald Trump elected U.S. president triggers a series of responses: a sudden rise of domestic racial discrimination cases, overseas/ethnic Chinese scolded as 'chinks,'" the notification read, according to screenshots posted by ethnographer and writer Christina Xu and translated by 88-bar

The story Weibo pushed blatantly blames American protestors for a rise in hatred against Chinese people, stating that the protestors are blaming the Chinese for Trump's win. The slurs cited in the story, as 88-bar pointed out, are based on a nonexistent news article and false information. 

Xu, who is currently in China, said in a message that Weibo is "the equivalent of Twitter here," adding that "a lot of people use WeChat, but Weibo articles are often shared there as well." 

In a tweetstorm, Xu said that an unlikely explanation for the push of the fake news article fueling support for Trump in China could be a "genuine, DEEP ignorance leading to misunderstanding of stories stripped of context." Though she believes this to be unlikely. 

What Xu sees as the "more likely and much worse" possibility is that someone intentionally spread the misinformation to drum up support for Trump and to defend ethnocentrism. 

This instance overseas is largely similar to how fake news and hoaxes play out on Facebook, Twitter and Google in the U.S. and elsewhere. The critical difference in the Weibo incident is that users weren't stumbling across the fake news on their own accord — the site pushed the notification to users' phones.

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Melanie Ehrenkranz

Melanie is a writer covering technology and the future. She can be reached at melanie@mic.com.

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