This article is co-published with ProPublica.
At least two dozen groups on the Chinese-owned social media app WeChat have been circulating misinformation that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is “preparing to mobilize” the National Guard and “dispatch” the military to quell impending riots, apparently in an attempt to frighten Chinese Americans into staying home on Election Day.
The misinformation, which takes the form of a photo of a flyer and is in both English and Chinese, also warns that the government plans to impose a national two-week quarantine and close all businesses.
“They will announce this as soon as they have troops in place to prevent looters and rioters,” it states. The flyer originally appeared on WeChat during the first surge of the pandemic, and it later spread to other social media. It recently resurfaced on WeChat.
“I’m sure thousands of people have seen that. I’m sure that it’s pretty widespread,” said Shaw San Liu, executive director of the Chinese Progressive Association in San Francisco, which has been tracking the flyer and other misinformation on WeChat. “We’re really concerned about making sure we get some good counterinformation, facts out there so that people are not discouraged because this is the last stretch.”