The Development Path of WeChat: Social, Political and Ethical Challenges
China boasts the world’s largest social media market, which is vastly different from her Western counterparts. WeChat by Tencent, QQ and Weibo are at the forefront of the growing market—aiming to benefit from the surge in social media membership. Much of the focus, however, has been on examining and expanding their technological portfolio which further gives rise to a number of concerns. As WeChat continues to grow, politicians and dissidents alike are voicing their fears that security officials are able to track users’ everyday movements via the voice-messaging service that WeChat offers. As such, both users and the authorities alike deem WeChat as a brewing threat due to the possibility of surveillance—which perhaps explains why the frequency of WeChat-related crimes has greatly increased.
This research therefore focuses on the ramifications of WeChat’s growth on institutional policy and social development, alongside the ethical challenges that may arise. The trajectory of WeChat’s development will consequently be analysed—considering its early growth and the impact that governmental policies have had in shaping China’s social media evolution. Ultimately, the study endeavours to implicate the complexity of social media in China compared to the West—offering an alternative model to account for the changing power dynamics behind China’s digital business environment.
KeywordsWeChat Social media market Tencent Social development Weibo
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