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[liberationtech] WeChat

Paul Holden pholden at fastmail.fm
Mon Jul 15 15:03:39 PDT 2013


On 13-07-14 23:29:03, Sarah Lai Stirland <sarah at personaldemocracy.com>
wrote:
> Thanks. This is the kind of discussion and back and forth I was looking for
> ... I kind of figured this was the case, although I don't know of any
> actual examples of any of this happening. I know a lot of Chinese people

>From what I understand one of the reasons the Chinese government doesn't
allow twitter or Facebook in China is because they can't get physical
access to the servers. QQ, renren (人人网) and Weibo (微博) are social
networking services equivalent to FB and twitter, and the Chinese
government has no problem with them.

Partly based on that, as well as other factors, I think it's safe to
assume that the PSB has direct access to these companies' facilities and
does whatever it wants with the data, including complete social graph
analysis. I'd be surprised if the things Nathan suggested, are not
actually happening in China.

> use it, and I think it's interesting why it's so popular with the Chinese,
> and not so much in the US. When I say the American, I mean something made

This is interesting. There's a lot going on in the domestic software
industry in China that never gets noticed outside. Whether it's word
processors, browsers or social networking services, it's all being
produced domestically in China, but rarely seems to make it outside.

I think part of it is a language problem. But even when the software is
translated, as has been done with Wechat (微信)and Weibo, it doesn't
seem to get far outside China. The Weibo English version is a completely
different site and doesn't seem to have been marketed much in the west.
I don't know why they made those choices. Based on what I've sen with
WeChat, its largest markets outside China are Thailand and Malaysia.

WeChat is an easy jump from QQ, since you can use the same credentials
(if you want). But it's a completely separate set of contacts and so a
different social network. It's mobile only, there is no website.

In my experience with WeChat, most people use it for 1-1 communication,
including sharing photos. They also post photos and links on their
"moments" (ie, wall) and their friends either comment on or like these.
It has limited social networking capability compared to QQ or FB, but it
might be that this subset of features is just what people want on a
mobile phone app. I think the proximity search for friends and the
"shake" feature are probably quite attractive ones.

I've found that I use WeChat a lot more now than I ever used the QQ
mobile app, or the QQ website. I have several Chinese friends inside and
outside China whom I keep in touch with via WeChat. I've rarely met
anyone who's not from China who uses WeChat (or QQ for that matter) or
even knows what it is.

Paul



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