This Messaging App With 1.2 Billion Users Will Start Sharing Users’ Location! Will Whatsapp Follow Suit?
China’s most popular messaging service WeChat will start revealing user locations when they post on a public account.
How It Works
The Tencent-owned platform which is used by over 1.2 billion users will test the setting, which will apply only to users of its “public platform” where they comment on content published by official accounts.
It will display the province or municipality of users in China posting on public accounts.
Posts made by foreign users on public accounts will display the country’s IP address.
WeChat said that the step has been taken to tackle misinformation relating to “domestic and overseas hot-topic issues”.
It didn’t elaborate further.
Apart from the private messaging service, WeChat users such as companies and bloggers can create official accounts where they can publicly post articles.
These posts are widely used in the country to share news, essays and other written content.
Just this Friday, comments left by users on some of the public posts displayed the province they were posted from.
Weibo’s Offensive Against “Undesirable” Behaviors
WeChat’s actions come just a day after Weibo, the Chinese Twitter, made the same settings permanent after testing for over a month.
It said that it was doing so in order to reduce “undesirable” behaviors such as impersonating parties, malicious rumors and to ensure the authenticity and transparency of the content.
Users’ IP addresses will be recorded, and the province or municipality they post from will be added to their posts.
The site confirmed that the functionality cannot be turned off.
Chinese TikTok Going Political
Another company Douyin, a ByteDance subsidiary and the Chinese equivalent of TikTok said that it had also added the user location display settings.
It has also asked users to report posts that criticize China’s leaders or economic policies.
All this comes in the backdrop of a charged atmosphere in China due to the surge in Covid cases and the ensuing crackdown to achieve ‘Zero Covid’.
Complete Information Control
Chinese citizens have erupted in anger at the government’s excesses such as separating children from parents, acute food shortage and other inhuman conditions.
Earlier this month, WeChat hashtags discussing food shortages were allegedly blocked.
Street signs put up by authorities have appeared in cities warning citizens against posting pandemic-related messages online.
In an attempt to pass off genuine criticism as lies, the government has advised the public to “exercise caution on the internet” as the “internet is full of perils”.