Tencent Holdings, which created the hugely popular WeChat app, said the company will continue to maintain the health and security of cyberspace. Representatives from China’s popular instant messaging apps and media discussed what it takes to maintain clean cyberspace.
As China’s top messaging app with some 400 million users, WeChat is where people share news, photos and personal thoughts.
With the aim of keeping this online sharing of information as clean as possible, the government has introduced a 10-point regulation. These regulations require future user to register with their real name, and that any public accounts wishing to post news on current political affairs, need to be approved beforehand.
Tencent says it is already following these rules. Public accounts can send out a single message to a large number of followers; thus their influence is far greater than individual posts. With 5.8 million public accounts, Tencent is almost certainly to be affected by the new restrictions. Other instant messaging apps are not immune, including Yixin, from NetEase, Miliao from Xiaomi, and Laiwang from Alibaba.
The impact of the new policy is already being felt on the stock markets. Tencent shares were down 3.5 percent in Hong Kong during trading on Thursday. Many fear that the new rules might cool down the traffic of WeChat public accounts and discourage outspoken users. So far the regulation is mainly for public accounts, not individual users.
After the official sweep of rumor in China’s micro-blog Weibo last year, WeChat now is the second in line. Officials say the new rules will help to maintain a healthy and secure cyber space, and that there will be no interference in freedom of speech as long as everyday users abide by the bottom-lines.