Files and images that are being shared by WeChat’s users out of China are now being monitored as well as cataloged to be used in political censorship in the country.
WeChat is China’s most popular social media platform. It’s basically like how Messenger or Face Time is in our country. According to a report by Citizen Lab, the University of Toronto’s online watchdog, WeChat users outside of China are not really aware that they are already contributing to censorship. By censorship, this means it would limit the content they can share over WeChat that are found to be inappropriate from being seen by users within China.
Tencent—WeChat’s parent company—already produced a statement last Friday that says this was a response to suggestions of engaging more in content surveillance of international users. Therefore, this would allow them to confirm that content shared by users across countries would be private.
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Citizen Lab further continues that its findings are rooted on technical experiments. According to their report, censorship in communications are not detected on accounts registered outside China. However, there is still a surveillance of content—files and images—going on between accounts.
Tencent also did not clearly state in its terms of service on whether it is surveilling accounts registered out of the country. Instead, it merely says on the statement that their policies and procedures comply with all laws and regulations that are plausible in the country; privacy and data security being the main concern.
The researchers shared that they first made contact with WeChat last January to inquire about their findings. Unfortunately, there was no response from the company until now despite their questions being acknowledged since February.
About 100 million people are using WeChat outside of China, according to MessengerPeople of Munich, and a billion users overall which makes this social media platform come in third behind Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger.
This is why China’s strict about the censorship when it comes to their most popular social media platform, and users are expected to respect and comply towards these restrictions.
Via: The Washington Post