This change means there is no feedback to users that censorship has occured making the restrictions on We Chat less transparent.
Censored keywords spanned a range of content, including current events, politics, and social issues.
We Chat, (Weixin 微信 in Chinese), is the dominant chat application in China and fourth largest in the world, with 806 million monthly active users.
We Chat encompasses more than just text, voice, and video chat; it includes a rich set of features such as gaming, mobile payments, and ride hailing, which make it more of a lifestyle platform than a mere chat app.
In 2010, China’s State Council Information Office (SCIO) published a major government-issued document on its Internet policy.
Filtering remains enabled even if users later link their account with a non-mainland China number, which means that users with accounts registered to mainland China will remain under censorship regardless if they travel or unlink their Chinese phone number from the account.
Differentiating content access based on user registration seemingly creates a “one app, two systems” model of censorship. When you send a message it passes through a remote server that contains rules for implementing censorship.
If the message includes a keyword that has been targeted for blocking, the message will not be sent.
We Chat thrives on the huge user base it has amassed in China, but the Chinese market carries unique challenges.
Any Internet company operating in China is subject to laws and regulations that hold companies legally responsible for content on their platforms.