WeChat sets the record straight for its 690,000 Aussie users
The Select Committee on Foreign Interference through Social Media has been tasked with probing the risk posed to the nation’s democracy by foreign interference through social media.
Twitter, Google, Tiktok, and Facebook have previously made submissions to the inquiry, with the plan for representatives from each of the social media platforms to eventually face the committee.
TikTok was probed on Friday, using its time to clarify data protection rules, its plans to prevent distressing videos from being viewed on its platform, and how it wasn’t asked to provide assistance to a government investigation, among other things. Facebook was due to appear alongside TikTok, but blamed a scheduling issue for pulling out.
The latest submission [PDF] to the committee as part of its inquiry comes from the Middle Kingdom, by way of popular chat app WeChat.
WeChat is owned and operated by WeChat International Pte Ltd, an entity incorporated in Singapore. WeChat International is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tencent Holdings Limited, which is a global technology giant incorporated in the Cayman Islands and listed on the Main Board of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong.
Globally, WeChat boasts over 1.2 billion monthly active users. As at 21 September 2020, WeChat had approximately 690,000 daily active users in Australia.
US President Donald Trump in August claimed that apps developed in China are a threat to national security, making an executive order to ban WeChat alongside TikTok. Although that ban was later blocked by the US district court, WeChat has taken the opportunity in its submission to the Australian committee to explain how western users of the app are treated differently to those in mainland China.
Firstly, the specific app used is regional.
WeChat is operated by WeChat International, and is designed for users outside of mainland China. It said WeChat is