WeChat denies 'snooping around user chats' claim by top bizman

A WeChat logo is displayed on a mobile phone as a woman walks past as she talks on her mobile phone at a taxi rank in this picture illustration taken July 21, 2016 Siphiwe Sibeko/Illustration/Reuters

After a Chinese top businessman accused WeChat of snooping around message exchanges of its massive user base, Tencent Holdings, developer of the multipurpose messaging service, denies the said allegation.

Tencent on Tuesday issued an official statement, disproving the claims of Geely Holdings chairman Li Shufu that they are keeping tabs on the accounts of its users. Geely Holdings is the owner of car brand Volvo.

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"WeChat does not store any users' chat history. That is only stored in users' mobiles, computers and other terminals," reads WeChat's statement on the social media platform.

"WeChat will not use any content from user chats for big data analysis. Because of WeChat's technical model that does not store or analyze user chats, the rumor that 'we are watching your WeChat everyday' is pure misunderstanding."

On Monday, Li was quoted in Chinese media as saying Tencent chairman Ma Huateng "must be watching all our WeChats every day".

Per Chinese regulations, social media platforms are stipulated to filter public posts that are considered illegal by the Communist Party. In WeChat's privacy policy, it reserves the right to retain and disclose users' information "in response to a request by a government authority, law enforcement agency or similar body".

Back in September 2017, Tencent, alongside Baidu Inc and Weibo Corp, had been penalised by the Chinese government for failing to properly censor online content.

This article was first published on January 2, 2018