Wasserman and Madrid-Morales present research at the Centre for the Study of Contemporary China, University of Pennsylvania

Herman Wasserman and Dani Madrid-Morales will present their paper “What Motivates the Sharing of Misinformation about China and Covid-19? A Study of Social Media Users in Kenya and South Africa” at the international conference “Narratives of COVID-19 in China and the World: Technology, Society, and Nations” hosted by the Annenberg School for Communications at the University of Pennsylvania.

Abstract:  During the peak of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, social media was inundated with misinformation related to the virus and its origins, possible remedies and cures, as well as government’s responses to the outbreak. Much of the inaccurate information circulating on social media was related to China, the country where the first cases of the disease where reported. In this chapter, we investigate how social media users in Kenya and South Africa engaged with misinformation about China and COVID-19. Both countries have seen in the last decade an increase in mediated engagements with China. During the first days of the pandemic, Chinese media, diplomats and public information officers were extremely active in their communication efforts towards African audiences with the goal of managing public opinion, and reducing the amount of criticism the country was facing, particularly on social media. Using survey data (N = 1,961), we first examine attitudes towards China and COVID-19 among Kenyan and South African social media users. This is followed by an exploration of their views towards misinformation related to China during the first months of the pandemic. Finally, we use these data to better understand social media users motivations’ for sharing some widely circulated hoaxes about China and COVID-19. The chapter concludes with a discussion on the implications of our findings for misinformation studies, as well as for scholarship on Africa-China relations.

Read the full paper here: What Motivates The Sharing of Misinformation about China and COVID-19?

You can download a copy of the presentation slides from here: Slides from UPenn Presentation