Top app denies storing users' chat histories

Top News | 3 Jan 2018

WeChat, the mainland's most popular messenger app, has denied storing users' chat histories, after a top businessman was quoted as saying he believes its operator, Tencent Holdings, is monitoring everyone's account.

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

The Shenzhen-based company added: "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 a pure misunderstanding."

Li Shufu, chairman of Geely Holdings, which owns Volvo, was quoted in mainland media as saying Tencent boss Pony Ma Huateng "must be watching all our WeChats everyday."

Like all mainland 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."

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, the regulator handed down maximum penalties to tech firms - including Tencent, Baidu and Weibo - for failing to properly censor online content, and ordered them to increase content auditing measures.

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


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