Yes, you heard that right! WeChat, one of the most popular messaging apps will delete messages from your chats. And you won’t know it. The app stopped informing people that their chats are censored. It is a new step to reduce privacy from user’s accounts. Well, as we know, censorship is a major part of operations in China. But in recent years, they have even ceased informing the people. Before, users were not able to send any controversial messages. For instance, the free speech groups or about the Tiananmen Square massacre. But now, the messages are just deleted without notifying the user. This development is disturbing a lot of people.
Such censorship is going to bring a lot of distress
WeChat is not only a messaging app. you can make payments, taxi-hailing, food delivery, and news services. The app has got more than 840 million active users. According to the director of Citizen Lab, Robert Deibert, “By removing notice of censorship, WeChat sinks deeper into a dark hole of unaccountability to its users.” WeChat’s censorship apparatus is one of the strongest in China. And its censorship apparatus is also applicable for international users too. According to reports of the University of Toronto, WeChat tracks keywords for China-based users. It also blocks the URLs that load within the in-app browser. The default links will not open for the Chinese users.
How does work on WeChat censorship
WeChat in China has one of the most interesting censorship systems. The Ever-Evolving set of keywords triggers the app. Server side stores the keywords. It follows the user’s links throughout the globe. So, if an account is paired with Chinese number, it continues the China-based censorship. Even if the networks, are outside China or an overseas mobile number. So, “WeChat China user” is a label that you would not want in your name. China is watching you, any individual who travels abroad from China, student, or travelers. They will also remain within the boundaries of the country’s censorship system.
The strongest censorship of the world
It is not yet clear how many international users WeChat has, but the majority of them are located in China. WeChat has an estimation of 1/3rd of the consumers time spent on that app. According to Citizen Lab, censorship efforts are sharpest in China, especially in group messages. The group messages have become popular social tools nowadays. WeChat is now allowing 500 individuals in a group. The app replaced social media platforms in many ways. It provided space for families, colleagues and industry peers to communicate. The keyword censorship is more active in groups than personal chats. It is to reduce the higher potential of spreading information to a lot of users.
Here is what the operators of WeChat say
Tencent, the $232 billion dollar giant, is operating WeChat. But it does not provide any idea how many international WeChat users China has. And it didn’t respond to the report of Citizen Lab. According to a statement made by Tencent, “Tencent respects and complies with local laws and regulations in countries we operate in to provide a safe and reliable communications ecosystem for our users. WeChat has and will always adhere to Tencent’s core mission to create value for our users by providing high-quality, secure user experiences.”
Well, this discussion has heated up recently. Recently, we shared how Facebook developed a system which can censor content in China. After releasing this system, the censorship issue in China took a whole new level. The US social network is always interested in China. WeChat has immense popularity in China. And this is why, being relevant in China, for Facebook, is going to be tough. And that will be possible if only it can come to an agreement with the Chinese Government.