Radio Netherlands Worldwide

SSO Login

More login possibilities:

Close
  • Facebook
  • Flickr
  • Twitter
  • Google
  • LinkedIn
Home
Wednesday 26 November  
WeChat logo with censorship graphic
Map
Beijing, China
Beijing, China

Inside WeChat: The Future of China’s Hippest New App

Published on : 4 June 2013 - 7:20am | By RNW China Desk ((C) Peek Design)
More about:

WeChat

WeChat graphic

 WeChat is not just a cheap way to chat with friends, but  is also used to exchange information during crises —such as the Sichuan earthquake in April — and to document and investigate injustices and instances of official corruption.

China’s version of Whatsapp offers a free, popular way to communicate—but how much longer can the service remain free of costs and censorship? RNW spoke with WeChat employees about their fears and expectations for the future of China’s hippest new start-up.

WeChat is like Skype, Whatsapp and Facebook all wrapped into one app. And, in true Asian tech fashion, it features some really fun emoticons to boot. Released in January 2011, WeChat has already attracted over 300 million users. They use it to chat with coworkers, share pictures and even find one-night stands. But WeChat is no longer just fun and games, now that media are using it as a new distribution platform.

Media tool
Just like normal users, accredited media can open public accounts and attract followers on WeChat. Even China’s state television broadcaster, CCTV, launched its own WeChat account this April and promoted it on its daily news program - one of the most-watched programs in the world. Media use WeChat to send breaking news and in-depth analysis directly to their followers’ smart phones.

While the traditional news media’s appropriation of WeChat has further boosted its popularity, employees of WeChat fear that the increase in public news accounts has also made the company a target of state control.

Avoiding Weibo’s Fate
In recent years, the Chinese authorities have tightened their grip on the Internet and forced many social media platforms to censor their users. Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, has a team of more than 1000 employees to maintain its in-house censorship regime.

In conversations with WeChat employees, RNW was told that the company is doing its utmost to avoid such a scenario. For now, users enjoy a relatively larger degree of freedom on the platform. Whereas Chinese politicians’ names are censored on Weibo – making it impossible even to praise China’s leader Xi Jinping – users of WeChat can freely discuss these topics. Nevertheless, cautious users still avoid using WeChat to discuss sensitive topics, as they fear that their private communications might be subject to government surveillance.

Just for fun
For WeChat, censoring users’ content would be a costly affair, and it would require more complicated filtering technology. Unlike Sina Weibo, which is text-based, WeChat would have to find a way to filter multimedia content such as voice messages too.

WeChat’s strategy, therefore, is to downplay its new media potential. Ma Huateng, the Chairman of Tencent which developed WeChat, has previously stated that WeChat should emphasize its entertainment function and rely on mobile games to generate revenue.

No Such Thing As a Free Chat
In-house censorship is not the only problem WeChat is facing. Its service and popularity have also attracted attacks from the three largest telecommunication companies and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Because WeChat enables users to make phone calls and send text messages for free via their phone’s Internet connection, the app is devastating the telecommunication companies’ traditional sources of revenue. WeChat's reliance on mobile data services also increases telecommunication providers’ operating cost. The mobile data service fee paid by subscribers, however, does not make up for the cost, let alone generate profits.

The telecommunication companies have long been expecting Tencent Holdings to pay for mobile data service. Although WeChat has promised that its service will remain free, rumors have spread over the past few months that it will have to start charging its users to remain profitable. WeChat employees speculate that Tencent will have to negotiate with the telecommunication companies over dividing profits in the future.

 

Discussion

kirkland9 26 November 2014 - 8:26am / USA

I'm really enjoying reading your well written articles. It looks like you spend a lot of effort and time on your blog. http://goo.gl/uVXlbL

Anonymous 24 November 2014 - 8:24am

Please forward your request to the Niche Profit Classroom help desk. They will be able to assist you further. look here

obat bronkitis paling ampuh 24 November 2014 - 7:40am / indonesia

silahkan kunjungi website saya obat bronkitis paling ampuh

alikhan_095 22 November 2014 - 10:53am

I recently came across your article and have been reading along. I want to express my admiration of your writing skill and ability to make readers read from the beginning to the end. I would like to read newer posts and to share my thoughts with you.lån penge

Anonymous 19 November 2014 - 11:54am / United Kingdom

We Chat is not only being used for socializing, it is also used by students to discuss their study topics and issues. I read instruction at http://www.writingbunch.co.uk/ and now, using it for my study help

rozi 18 November 2014 - 8:16am

This knowledge Excellently written article, if only all bloggers offered the same level of content as you, the internet would be a much better place. Please keep it up!

http://www.costapharmacy.com/lunesta.htm

Anonymous 18 November 2014 - 1:27am

Thank for this reading , I also lovemobile aplication and about.me provide that also
whatsapp messenger

alikhan_095 16 November 2014 - 12:39pm

Two full thumbs up for this magneficent article of yours. I've really enjoyed reading this article today and I think this might be one of the best article that I've read yet. Please, keep this work going on in the same quality.diet

alikhan_095 16 November 2014 - 12:30am

I just got to this amazing site not long ago. I was actually captured with the piece of resources you have got here. Big thumbs up for making such wonderful blog page! Watch Video Court Case Finder

calvinbrock735 13 November 2014 - 4:18pm

Really great post, Thank you for sharing This knowledge.Excellently written article, if only all bloggers offered the same level of content as you, the internet would be a much better place. Please keep it up! POS Printer Manufacturer

alikhan_095 11 November 2014 - 6:15pm

This is an excellent post I seen thanks to share it. It is really what I wanted to see hope in future you will continue for sharing such a excellent post.takvim 2015

alikhan_095 8 November 2014 - 6:05pm

What a really awesome post this is. Truly, one of the best posts I've ever witnessed to see in my whole life. Wow, just keep it up.http://www.lordalex.org/giving-a-child-up-for-adoption/

alikhan_095 8 November 2014 - 5:50pm

Truly, this article is really one of the very best in the history of articles. I am a antique ’Article’ collector and I sometimes read some new articles if I find them interesting. And I found this one pretty fascinating and it should go into my collection. Very good work!http://www.bwabe.info/

alikhan_095 8 November 2014 - 5:06pm

I am overwhelmed by your post with such a nice topic. Usually I visit your blogs and get updated through the information you include but today’s blog would be the most appreciable. Well done!http://normandyholidayhomes.info/

alikhan_095 8 November 2014 - 4:56pm

Writing with style and getting good compliments on the article is quite hard, to be honest.But you've done it so calmly and with so cool feeling and you've nailed the job. This article is possessed with style and I am giving good compliment. Best!http://www.microofcsales.info/

alikhan_095 8 November 2014 - 4:38pm

Wow! Such an amazing and helpful post this is. I really really love it. It's so good and so awesome. I am just amazed. I hope that you continue to do your work like this in the future also.http://hippardlaw.com/

jojolei 7 November 2014 - 10:41am / pakistan

Once you know which properties are in default, you can approach owners directly to sell, arrange financing to save the property or whatever seems appropriate for all the parties involved. free lists of foreclosures

alikhan_095 7 November 2014 - 12:24am

Very informative post ! There is a lot of information here that can help any business get started with a successful social networking campaign !be found for your business search

Anonymous 6 November 2014 - 10:49pm

Hi I found your site by mistake when i was searching yahoo for this acne issue, I must say your site is really helpful I also love the design, its amazing!. I don’t have the time at the moment to fully read your site but I have bookmarked it and also add your RSS feeds. I will be back in a day or two. thanks for a great site.
Bike Storage Rack

rozi 18 November 2014 - 8:19am

This knowledge Excellently written article, if only all bloggers offered the same level of content as you, the internet would be a much better place. Please keep it up!

http://xunity.tv/

leezajion 6 November 2014 - 4:00pm / pakistan

Great post! I am actually getting ready to across this information, is very helpful my friend. Also great blog here with all of the valuable information you have. Keep up the good work you are doing here.YouTube Channel: youtube.com/TheMartialArtsArena

leezajion 6 November 2014 - 7:41am / pakistan

This is an excellent post I seen thanks to share it. It is really what Iwanted to see hope in future you will continue for sharing such aexcellent post.Sullivan United Moving & Storage

asadalikhatri 4 November 2014 - 12:04pm / pakistan

This is a great post. I like topic.This site has lots of advantage.I found many interesting things from this site. It helps me in many ways.Thanks for posting this again. saree

asadalikhatri 4 November 2014 - 9:20am / pakistan

Strong adult community network by Live Alexia Group. All about us you can find on our Alexia blog.Hot and attractive content daily updated. Find more about Camturbate, Live Alexia chat, web models, cam girls or become our model and earn thousands per week! best transmission repair in knoxville

donateeb 4 November 2014 - 7:53am / pakistan

Strong adult community network by Live Alexia Group. All about us you can find on our Alexia blog.Hot and attractive content daily updated. Find more about Camturbate, Live Alexia chat, web models, cam girls or become our model and earn thousands per week! live alexia

Anonymous 2 November 2014 - 10:55pm

I surprised with the analysis you made to make this particular publish incredible. Wonderful activity!
Blinds

calvinbrock735 1 November 2014 - 11:08am

As a Newbie, I am permanently exploring online for articles that can be of assistance to me. Thank you payday loan

leezajion 1 November 2014 - 9:22am / pakistan

PTZPros.com is pleased to announce the release of our Mobile PTZ Surveillance Solution. We have designed a complete system including camera, monitor, and DVR all from one provider, in a simple easy to install package.PTZPros.com Mobile PTZ Surveillance Solution

stuart 31 October 2014 - 12:48pm

Thanks for a very interesting blog. What else may I get that kind of info written in such a perfect approach? I’ve a undertaking that I am simply now operating on, and I have been at the look out for such info.
magic supplies

Post new comment

Please be reminded all comments must be in English, short and to the point - guideline 250 words. Abusive and inappropriate comments will be removed.

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <p> <br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

RNW on Facebook

RNW Player

Video highlights

Ladies on the move
RNW is keen on featuring inspiring women in our target countries, women who...
What about men?
In many countries, men don't stick around to raise their children. This is...