Photo credit: SupChina illustration
If there is one thing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wishes he could create, and will never be able to acquire or replicate, it’s WeChat — China’s super-app, which has changed the way people use their phones, and disrupted the social media industry.
For those of you who have travelled to China, or live there, you already know how indispensable this app is for daily life. For the rest of you, we have published an article explaining what WeChat is, why it has more than 1 billion monthly users, and what features it offers users — in exchange, of course, for you not having any reasonable expectation of privacy. A few takeaways:
- WeChat is far more than a messaging app: It has video and audio calls, a Facebook-type news and friend feed, mobile payments, connection to ride-hailing services, travel and ecommerce services, and more.
- Mini Programs take the multifunctionality to another level: They are essentially applications smaller than 10 megabytes that can run within the WeChat interface. Around 200 million people use them every day.
- WeChat’s owner, Tencent, denies that it spies on its users, but Chinese law requires tech companies to cooperate with the state, and the Chinese state is not known for its respect for individual rights. There are countless stories of private WeChat messages leading to harassment from officials, criminal charges, or — for many Uyghur muslims who had so much as mentioned the Koran on WeChat — being locked up in a re-education camp.