The social gossip vine in China is alive and well. In fact, WeChat may have a lot to do with this. This could be good or bad for those who utilize WeChat in the business world, and it is something in which Chinese authorities are tracking and worrying about.
WeChat is the most popular Chinese social media app that the country has to offer. However, many are finding that information being posted to the social media site is not entirely correct, which is leading wrong information being on the market. The director of the Institute of Journalism and Communication at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Tang Xujun, stated:
“WeChat has become a ‘hypermedia’ ecosystem, and it’s very difficult to repel WeChat rumors.”
The social media giant is making it easier than ever for false rumors to be spread, along with fake news stories that the public is taking for truth. This is the point of worry for many higher authorities in China, as they worry how this social media messaging system could be used in the future.
Tencent is the holding company for WeChat, which was launched in 2011. It has roughly 550 million active users, and it continues to grow as more and more people are gaining internet access. A CASS study found some interesting data concerning the app. Last year 7% of the rumors that were spread across China started on WeChat. Though this is not a huge percentage of rumors, what officials have found is that it is harder to disprove a rumor on WeChat when compared to blogging services.
Kuang Wenbo, a Renimin University’s School of Journalism and Communication professor stated:
“Why is the level of trust in information on WeChat so high? Because information spread on WeChat comes from family and friends, not strangers.”
Armed with this information, CASS researchers are looking at suggested ways to ensure that fake news and rumors become a thing of the past on WeChat. These ideas include officials using official social media channels for the release of news, as well as allowing the public to report fake news feeds they read on WeChat.
Li Peilin, the vice president of the Chinese Academy of Social Services, stated:
“These issues affect not only industrial development, but also national security.”
WeChat may be a great social media platform for many, but for those in the business and government sector it can make getting business completed even harder.