WeChat users can’t change profiles until the end of October

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A summary of the top news in Chinese society and culture for October 17, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.


WeChat, China’s social, messaging, and do-everything mobile app, announced (in Chinese) on October 17 that its users are temporarily banned from updating their profiles until the end of the month.

“Due to system maintenance, users won’t be able to change their profile pictures, user names, and short bios until the end of this month,” the notice says. “Other functions won’t be affected. We apologize for any inconvenience caused.”

Other Chinese social media platforms, including Weibo and QQ, have announced the same type of service interruptions.

“System maintenance” (系统维护 xìtǒng wéihù) is a euphemism often used by Chinese internet companies when services are suspended because of government regulations or censorship. None of the companies have stated the real reason for the suspensions: security measures for the 19th Party Congress, which formally begins on October 18 and ends on October 24.

The restrictions on WeChat only apply to accounts created in mainland China — based on testing at the SupChina office in New York, accounts created outside China are not restricted from changing their profiles, while all China-registered accounts we tested had the restrictions in place.