Tencent’s WeChat will reveal user locations on public account posts

WeChat app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

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BEIJING, April 29 (Reuters) – China’s most popular messaging service, WeChat, said on Friday it would start revealing users’ locations when they post to a public account.

WeChat, owned by Tencent (0700.HK), said it would soon start testing the setting, which only applies to users on its “public platform”, where they can comment on news, essays and other written content published by official accounts.

The new settings will display the province or municipality of users in China who post to public accounts. Messages posted by foreign users on public accounts will display the country indicated by their IP address.

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WeChat, which has more than 1.2 billion monthly users, said in a notice that the move targeted misinformation relating to “domestic and foreign hot topics,” without giving further details.

In addition to its private messaging service, WeChat also allows users such as businesses and bloggers to create official accounts where they can post publicly available articles.

Its location function will apply to these public posts.

For example, since Friday, comments left by users on some of these posts indicated which province they were from.

WeChat’s notice came just a day after Weibo, another popular Chinese social media platform, introduced the same settings permanently after more than a month of testing. Read more

Douyin, a subsidiary of ByteDance and the Chinese equivalent of TikTok, said in a statement on Friday that it has also added a similar setting to user accounts.

It’s unclear what sparked the corporate moves, but social media platforms have been instructed by Chinese regulators to increase scrutiny of what’s posted on their sites as Beijing further tightens controls on its cyberspace.

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Reporting by Eduardo Baptista; Editing by David Goodman and Alexander Smith

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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