China Messaging Giant WeChat Denies It Stores User Chats

Tencent Holdings, whose messaging app WeChat has over 1 billion users across the globe, denies that it stores any of the chat histories of his users, after Li Shufu an automotive industry tycoon from China reportedly claimed the company invades the privacy of users.

The contents of conversations on WeChat are stored on only the user’s computer, tablet, mobile phone or other device, said WeChat on a post Tuesday. The social messaging app also doesn’t use any of the user’s content for data analysis.

As neither the chat content is stored nor analyzed by WeChat it is a misconception to allege that the company is watching your account on WeChat each day, said the statement on Tuesday.

WeChat has become very popular as a messaging app in China as users everyday communicate with one another. It has gained acceptance as well as a digital alternative to China’s national identification card. A court in Beijing also recently began accepting filings from people using the messaging platform.

WeChat was launched officially in 2011 and in mainland China is called Weixin. It has evolved into the biggest social network in China with more than 980 million active monthly users through the end of September, according to Tencent Holdings based in Shenzhen.

The statement by Tencent came after Shufu, the chairman of Geely, the Chinese automaker, criticized the company for invading the privacy of users on WeChat. Pony Ma Huateng the chairman at Tencent is watching through WeChat each day because he is able to see whatever he wants to, added Shufu during an event January 1.

An internet researcher in China said it had been amusing learning that while telecommunications operators in China all store the messages of users for long periods, Tencent, who has an even larger user base and has boosted it capacity in the cloud, said it does not store any of its users’ chats.

Tencent has faced this criticism before over its accessing of chat logs of WeChat users. In 2017, Tencent got involved in a dispute with Huawei the maker of telecommunications equipment over the right to collect data of users from WeChat that is installed on the smartphones of Huawei. That in turn prompted China’s Ministry of Information Technology and Industry to tell the two companies to resolve their differences.

In the U.S., Facebook, which has the largest social network in the world, has been criticized frequently for the way it approaches its user data from both regulators and consumers.