Technology as we know it has significantly altered communication in the last few decades. However, such advancement has brought with it human rights abuses, internet abuses and unethical actions. In this regard, different platforms have been compelled to develop internet censorships in some countries channelled towards controlling the nature of activities on their platforms. One such firm, WeChat–a Chinese Firm, best describes the utilization of internet censorship. WeChat, with close to 486 million users, has initiated an internet censorship that controls the content that can be posted on its platform following the Chinese Government tightened control on group chats ahead of its party congress. This initiative, according to the Chinese government, was paramount in countering and controlling politically sensitive material being shared on the platform. The new rule comes as an upgrade to hash the people and promote self-censorship with an aim of avoiding mass incidents and crisis prevention (Russel, 2017).
The move has seen that politically sensitive content being filtered by the app, where users are not informed on the messages being censored. Recently, users were blocked from changing nicknames, taglines and avatars. WeChat has policed its users by preventing sensitive texts that could be transmitted through the charts, following the Chinese government’s demand in taking responsibility for user content. The company uses a sophisticated system that effectively blocks sensitive words, where short terms containing phrases such as “Falun Gong” cause any content containing them to be blocked flat out. Other words such as terror, human rights defenders, and criticize the Chinese government, to name a few have been censored.
WeChat’s case continues to be primarily concerned with a large-scale discussion on sensitive issues, where a small outburst of criticism can be tolerated. Whereas the protection of the state’s political environment is paramount, I feel like the freedom to express views on both social and political environment should not be limited. Freedom of expression in the 21st century seeks to voice the people’s opinions on divergent issues affecting them and thus limiting this opportunity robes the people their freedom. In this respect, WeChat should at the very least inform its users on the content being blocked rather than blankly censoring content.
- Russell, J. (2017). WeChat begins censoring users ahead of China’s National Party Congress.
The Crunch. Retrieved fromhttps://techcrunch.com/2017/10/17/wechat-china-national-party-congress-censorship/