Beyond the Chinese market, We Chat has made considerable efforts to grow its user base internationally.

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This change means there is no feedback to users that censorship has occured making the restrictions on We Chat less transparent.

Censored keywords spanned a range of content, including current events, politics, and social issues.

Operating a chat application in China requires following laws and regulations on content control and monitoring.

Accordingly, the popularity of We Chat has also been met with suspicions of surveillance and media reports of censorship.

Documenting censorship on a system with a server-side implementation such as We Chat’s requires devising a sample of keywords to test, running those keywords through the app, and recording the results.

We used a sample of keywords found blocked on other apps used in China and systematically tested that sample in two modes: one-to-one chat and group chat.

Companies are expected to invest in staff and filtering technologies to moderate content and stay in compliance with government regulations.

Failure to comply can lead to fines or revocation of operating licenses.

We Chat offers a microblogging feature called “Public Accounts” that allows certain users to publish daily posts.

On March 13, 2014, Tencent shut down nearly 40 Public Accounts without giving any prior notice.

It is estimated that Chinese users spend a third of their mobile online time on We Chat and typically return to the app ten times a day or more.