Investigation: A company behind bogus news videos on WeChat

Jundian HE
Nov 6, 2019 · 4 min read

By Sally Lau, Tina He

“Hong Kong’s flagship carrier Cathay Pacific is going to file for bankruptcy. British Airways laid off all ground staff in Hong Kong due to the ongoing protests in the city. HSBC sacked its Greater China chief executive for getting caught up in a controversy.”

These are English translations of some of the false claims made by one of the many news videos found on a WeChat mini-program called “小貓祝福” (Kittens Blessing).

The mini-program, which essentially works as a stand-alone web app within WeChat platform, is full of sensational video clips with bogus or misleading information, sandwiched between ads.

Annie Lab first discovered Kittens Blessing when analyzing a questionable video clip shared in a private group with 500 members on the social media platform.

The clip contained some footage with added text that read “小貓祝福.”

A WeChat mini-program using that name displays a series of sensational videos with the same added text.

The mini-program describes itself as a video service that provides content with “blessing”, “positive energy” as well as “laughter” and “lifestyle.”

It is managed by a company called “Jinan Chiyuan Network Technology Co., Ltd.”

Kittens Blessing appears to be a typical content farm with lots of cut-and-paste collage videos without any source attribution or reference to original footage or news photos.

Advertisements of various kinds are featured prominently at the same time.

Further investigation into the registration record shows that it was set up in 2010.

It is hard to know how many people viewed or shared the clips on the platform as the popular messaging app in mainland China makes it easy for users to forward them in private groups or through private messages.

Interestingly, the claims found in Kittens Blessing are also found in numerous YouTube videos in Chinese, some with tens of thousands of views.

False claims about Cathay Pacific and HSBC are repeated in many videos on Youtube

False and misleading claims

To return to the video that initially caught Annie Lab’s attention, there is no evidence that suggests Cathay Pacific is going to go bankrupt.

The company’s 2019 Interim Report released on Aug. 7 shows its first half-year profit attributable to the shareholders was about HK$1.35 billion.

In the report, the chairman concluded that the company’s performance in the first six months of the year was positive.

Although its business has slowed down amidst the ongoing protests in the city, there are no credible news reports or market analysts mentioning the possibility of bankruptcy.

It was last year in September that British Airways laid off all their Hong Kong ground crew, according to local news reports including those from the South China Morning Post and Apple Daily.

The move, which happened a year before the current civil unrest began, has nothing to do with today’s political situation in Hong Kong.

The departure of HSBC’s Helen Wong, then Greater China chief executive, was voluntary and she tendered her resignation in July, according to news reports from Apple Daily and Mingpao.

The bank’s spokesperson reportedly said her decision to leave had no connection with its former chief executive John Flint’s sudden resignation or the job cut plan mentioned earlier in the same week, as her resignation was decided prior to the two announcements.

Disclaimer: This is a student work. Although JMSC faculty members have done everything possible to verify its accuracy, we cannot guarantee there are no mistakes. If you notice an error or have any questions, please email us at contact@annieasia.org.

annie lab

Fact-checking project @ Journalism & Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong, in collaboration with Asian Network of News & Information Educators (ANNIE).

Jundian HE

Written by

annie lab

annie lab

Fact-checking project @ Journalism & Media Studies Centre, The University of Hong Kong, in collaboration with Asian Network of News & Information Educators (ANNIE).

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