Fake news about the US is infiltrating China as accounts set up to earn advertising revenue flood the country’s most popular social platforms with sensational content. By pumping out “clickbait” stories on WeChat and Weibo, some channels have gained hundreds of thousands of followers, allowing them to sell advertising space. According to the Financial Times, in a country where access to many legitimate US news sources is blocked, fake news about American politics, often reinforcing longstanding Chinese suspicions about American biases, tends to bring in the most readers. “Conspiracy theories fit very well into [Chinese readers’] frames of how they understand politics overall, because they think that in the US, politics is very similar to politics in China, where it is about inner struggles and even murder,” said Fang Kecheng, a media researcher who runs News Lab, a WeChat account promoting media literacy. The fake news phenomenon has even spawned a cottage industry of online fact-checkers.
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