What Influences the Willingness of Chinese WeChat Users to Forward Food-Safety Rumors?


Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With the rapid development of social media, the management of online rumors on food safety has become an important issue. The precondition of effectively preventing and treating food safety problems lies in discovering the factors that influence the spreading of rumors. In this exploratory study, we investigate the factors that influence the willingness of Chinese WeChat users to forward food-safety rumors from the perspective of rumor audience. We first construct a theoretical model and put forward certain hypotheses relating variables such as rumor-content credibility, source credibility, and audience’s quality of rational criticism that influences the willingness to forward food-safety rumors. The empirical results show that WeChat food-safety rumors are characterized by obvious narrative features, dependence on professional sources, and highly realistic resonance. Stronger altruistic motive, content credibility, and source credibility lead to stronger audience willingness to forward rumors. However, the government and other authorities are generally viewed as ineffectively coping with the spread of such online rumors. This study’s findings suggest several ways to improve their counterrumor efforts on social media.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2186-2207
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Communication
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020. (Shuo Seah and Gabriel Weimann). Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives (by-nc-nd). Available at http://ijoc.org. All Rights Reserved.


  • WeChat
  • food safety
  • health communication
  • risk communication
  • rumors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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