China’s WeChat denies storing user chats

A WeChat logo is displayed inside TIT Creativity Industry Zone in Guangzhou
A WeChat logo is displayed inside TIT Creativity Industry Zone where Tencent office is located in Guangzhou, China May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

January 2, 2018

By Sijia Jiang

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Tencent Holdings’ WeChat, China’s most popular messenger app, on Tuesday denied storing users’ chat histories, after a top businessman was quoted in media reports as saying he believed Tencent was monitoring everyone’s account.

“WeChat does not store any users’ chat history. That is only stored in users’ mobiles, computers and other terminals,” WeChat said in a post on the social media platform.

“WeChat will not use any content from user chats for big data analysis. Because of WeChat’s technical model that does not store or analyze user chats, the rumor that ‘we are watching your WeChat everyday’ is pure misunderstanding.”

Li Shufu, chairman of Geely Holdings, owner of the Volvo car brand, was quoted in Chinese media on Monday as saying Tencent Chairman Ma Huateng “must be watching all our WeChats every day”.

Like all Chinese social media platforms, WeChat is required to censor public posts deemed “illegal” by the Communist Party. WeChat’s privacy policy says it may need to retain and disclose users’ information “in response to a request by a government authority, law enforcement agency or similar body”.

WeChat did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.

According to a report by Amnesty International, Tencent ranked at the bottom of 11 tech firms running the world’s most popular messenger apps for how they use encryption to protect user privacy.

China’s cyber watchdog in September announced a new rule making chat group administrators and companies accountable for breaches of content rules.

In the same month it handed down maximum penalties to tech firms including Tencent, Baidu Inc and Weibo Corp for failing to properly censor online content, and asked them to increase content auditing measures.

(Reporting by Sijia Jiang; Editing by Stephen Coates)

  • a voice of concern

    we chat has this great tool called nearyby and it tells you within feet who else is using wechat ! How do you think the program knows where you are and where other users are? They monitor every ones location and all communications all over the world.

  • a voice of concern

    LOL, too funny, Its China…All they do is spy on every one and they have 100% control of all internet servers and media devices. They can monitor and/or shut down any conversation or any device at a moments notice.
    They shut off all emails with attachments during the last Olympics in China simply because they didn’t like photos of slums being sent.

  • Roscoe

    ALL of these social and message sites steal data and sell it to advertisers at the minimum. Many buyers are the governments of the home country USA included. However the USA steals all of the raw data that it can steal from everyone on every transaction that you make on cell phones and the internet and stores it as raw data in a huge facility in Idaho or Utah, someplace out west. If they all of sudden get interested in you that raw data will turn into visible data for them to pour over. If privacy is your desire you better use some very good encryption that a creator will never sell the key to the government.

  • LoneStarLily

    Communism needs to insert its iron fist into every area of the populations life to survive. I guess it is not so great to live under after all???