Various Chinese social media companies have been misleading and sometimes directly lying to their readers for views. The fake news is most dangerous in that many of the readers are first generation Chinese migrants, who are on permant residency visas or have just recently attained citizenship. This means they either prefer media in their native tongue or are constrained by language barriers, forcing them to read social media for their news.
Here is a recent example of misleading WeChat news, in regards to the government’s decision to compensate refugees, who suffered harm under detainment, with $70 million AUD.
AuWe News (澳洲微报), published an article filled with misleading information about refugees.
AuWe News media’s article misleads the reader by instead of just reporting the news, they go down to the depths of all the benefits and welfare that refugees can claim. Implying as though that refugees are coming to Australia to freeload on welfare benefits. Such as saying that Centrelink can pay each refugee up to $1600 a month.
Other WeChat publications have also published equally misleading information regarding refugees. Australian Web (澳洲网）such as their article which illustrates that somehow Permanent Residents (PRs) are in competition directly with refugees for government resources.
Many readers were infuriated by the news and subequently shared the articles.
“The Australian government is on a dangerous path (Chinese idiom: riding a tiger they cannot dismount from)”
Soon, enough more and more people joined the mob and launched into comments section. The top rated comment being extremely violent:
This stupid cunt government should have died a long time ago! Politicians should let the refugees live in their homes! Fuck :cleaveremotesx3
The second most liked the commentor thinks that refugees have easier lives than Australian citizens
“This just shows that being a citizen isn’t as good as being a refugee! The Australian government does not welcome educated people who come by plane with money, they are more welcoming to people who come here on boat without any warning, as long as you get here you wont go back empty handed! Now you’ve given them money, this will become an advertisement for more illegal refugees. Just need to wait for two years, don’t need to work, just stay put, then you can be compensated the ten times the earnings of actual locals. The Australian government has already decided the future and quality of our citizens.
This shows the dangerous effect this types of media has had on first generation migrants, convincing them to think that refugees and asylum seekers are all coming here to reap the benefits welfare, without telling about the dangers they face back home.
Also an important note is that these types of comments can be found all across the internet on right wing news pages, so this should only be taken as an illustration of the effects of misleading social media news.
The Australian government needs to have a way to combat the rise of various right wing social media pages promoting hate and divide within the Chinese community.