Power struggles intensify as the number of Chinese Canadians pursue a political career rapidly grows. A campaign of character assassination – employing tactics of mudslinging and dirty dishing has erupted on WeChat groups, turning the social media into a hotbed for outlandish conspiracies and a battleground to tear down the rivals.
A WeChat group of Conservative supporters have become such a battlefield. An anonymous member published an attack article, putting a Chinese Canadian political activist in crosshairs. A list of her alleged indecent actions over the past– mostly without evidence to support – has caught the eyeballs of viewers. A flood of comments followed, dividing the group into the supporting and opposing camps and underscoring a fractious Chinese Canadian community. The ensuing bickering and fighting between the rival camps resembles, to some extent, the brutal struggles during the Cultural Revolution.
In a community carrying so much baggage of Cultural Revolution, smear campaigns are not rare. Many are resorting to assault, harassment and humiliation to attack rivals and to gain dominance on leadership. WeChat, which provides relative intimacy and a low-bar of entry for like-minded Mandarin speakers, has become their perfect echo chamber for conspiracy and vitriol, the front and center for spreading hatred and resentment, and a natural home to download their negative cultural legacy.
WeChat’s unique status as part of Facebook, part Twitter, and part instant messenger allows Chinese immigrants to tap into networks old and new and to keep up with friends and family back in China. On this social network of their own, they developed an insatiable appetite for conspiracy and a naïve trust for misinformation. The emotional stirring and anger-fueling posts have quickly turned into sensation on this platform, where most of the users consumed decades of censored-news from the state-controlled media in the home country.
The Chinese government has been closely monitoring the messaging app and shut down any political content sensitive to Beijing. However, its sensor with sophisticated AI system appear to be ignoring—if not encouraging—this poisonous vector, leaving the hostility-inflaming content to flourish and fester. A few years ago, WeChat announced ten rules for banning illegal content – from copyright infringement to porn to scam, but none of them targeted hatred incitement.
Mobilizing the masses to engage in fierce struggles has long been the tactic used by the Chinese government to strengthen its power and control – particularly during the Cultural Revolution. The Chinese government has never given a historical assessment for this mass movement, leaving its impacts still being felt fifty years later. The violent crusade has destroyed people’s fundamental trust in society and kindness, inflating people’s anger and fueling their resentment.
这些互相污蔑，诋毁内容主导了微信群，使与用户生活息息相关的新闻报道及来自就业，经济和医疗保健的新闻根本则在群内无栖身之地。这些群内打斗网贴被反复复制和分享，迅速传遍多个微信群体。 “这种趋势令人担忧，”群内一名成员表示。 “连续几天来，它堵塞了微信新闻源，占据了实时新闻和主流信息的全部空间。 ”
As the disparaging content dominate the information feed of WeChat groups, news coverage relevant to users – from jobs, the economy, and healthcare received little attention. The posts on the fierce clashes have been repeatedly copied and shared, quickly spreading throughout WeChat groups. “The trend is worrisome,” said a viewer in the group. “For days on end, the content that polarized the groups have clogged the news feed, leaving no space for authentic news and mainstream information. ”
Undoubtedly, if this trend continues to grow and spread, it will lead the community on a self-destruction path in this democratic society. The social media platform WeChat would be the silent accomplice for this outcome.
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