Australia global poster child for WeChat corruption

When Quartz decided to ask whether WeChat should be banned in democracies there was no better place to look than Straya:

Like other social media platforms, WeChat is being used more and more by political parties around the world to appeal to potential voters.

Its reach is considerable. It’s the world’s fifth largest social media platform, and has over one billion monthly users globally. Owned by Chinese tech behemoth Tencent, the multifunctional app started out as a messaging tool and has since evolved into a major publishing platform, used by traditional news sites, individual bloggers and media startups.

For those drawn to its value as a political tool, it holds a particular appeal, as WeChat is not just essential to people living in China. The Chinese diaspora uses the app to connect with Chinese speakers in the country they live in and to stay on top of issues important to the local Chinese community. For instance, Chinese Americans used WeChat to organize a nationwide protest in 2016.

Politicians from Canada, the US and Australia have all turned to the app to reach Chinese voters in their countries. The best example of this is probably in Australia, where the two major political parties embraced WeChat in the 2019 national election to win over the key demographic of ethnic Chinese voters. Many candidates registered for their own official accounts on WeChat to publish their political messages in Chinese on the platform and some even conducted live Q&As in WeChat groups with hundreds of voters.

Like Facebook and Twitter, WeChat has its fair share of problems with misinformation and disinformation. But the added language barrier and some built-in unique features of WeChat exacerbates the problem. On top of that, WeChat follows a different set of rules—rules set by the Chinese government and its censors.

In this latest episode of Because China, we go to Australia to understand how China’s “super app” could affect elections and democratic processes of another country. We break down how misinformation travels within the WeChat’s unique information ecosystem and why the app is a channel for Beijing to extend its censorship beyond China’s borders.

We also talk to people who are pushing back against the norm, urging lawmakers in Australia and beyond to include WeChat in the ongoing conversation about how to regulate global tech companies, prevent the spread of misinformation, and protect citizens’ privacy online.

The story recounts how fake accounts are used to misinfrom and intimidate political parties and individuals with criticisms of China. It alos notes how WeChat systematically censors and bans ALL criticism of the CCP. Indeed, Beijing can demand whatever it wants removed.

Alas the video is locked but it is not happy viewing.

Houses and Holes

David Llewellyn-Smith is Chief Strategist at the MB Fund and MB Super. David is the founding publisher and editor of MacroBusiness and was the fouding publisher and global economy editor of The Diplomat, the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics and economics portal.

He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.

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Comments

  1. Strange Economics

    Yep, its Another niche for fake news …
    Taking Liberals to court over Chinese how-to-vote cards … – SBS
    https://www.sbs.com.au › news › taking-liberals-to-court-over-chinese-ho…
    May 29, 2019 – Labor believes the voting instructions on WeChat gave Chinese electors the impression they had to vote for Gladys Liu or their ballot would not .

  2. Wechat and Weibo should be blocked in the West on reciprocity grounds. Western media and social media is blocked by China. The reciprocal should also apply. Its only fair.

  3. 30 years ago companies with such dominance were routinely broken up into smaller parts or forced to allow competitors access to their systems or product.

    Probably all your Googles Facebook’s and wechats need to be looked at in that light before it’s too late.

    Won’t happen but whatever…

  4. I watched some docos on what the Chinese are doing to muslim communities in the XianJing province last night. This is just as bad as apartheid, if not worse. We should be treating them and their companies the same way we treated the South Africans in the 20th century.

    • There’s what we should be doing and then there’s political and economic expediency. When there was genocide in Rwanda, the world’s moral compass, the USA, did a quick check to see whether, in intervening, there might be anything in it for them. No resources, just a few gorillas. So, nup – not their problem.

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