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Department of Communication and Media Research Science Communication

New publication: Global media and china

A new article by postdoctoral Researcher jing Zeng investigates how citizens contribute to rumour verification on social media in China, drawing on a case study of Weibo communication about the 2015 Tianjin blasts. Their findings suggest that even though citizen journalists’ direct engagement in publishing debunking messages was not as visible as that of the police and mainstream media, self-organised grassroots rumour-debunking practices demonstrate great potential. In terms of both the reposts and the positive comments they received, rumour-debunking posts from non-official actors appear to have been given more credibility than those from their official counterparts. In contrast, the official narratives about the Tianjin blasts were challenged, and the credibility of the official rumour-debunking messages was commonly questioned. Nevertheless, this article also shows that Weibo’s community verification system had limited effects in facilitating how Weibo users could collaboratively fact-check potentially false information.


Zeng, J., Burgess, J., & Bruns, A. (2019). Is citizen journalism better than professional journalism for fact-checking rumours in China? How Weibo users verified information following the 2015 Tianjin blasts. Global Media and China, 4(1), 13–35. doi:10.1177/20594364198341 (Link to article)