• World’s most used app gets a security upgrade and new features
• China has revised its data security policies
WeChat – China’s highly popular social media, messaging and payment app – has resumed new user registration on the mainland after it shut down late last month to upgrade its security technology.
The company announced a week ago it would upgrade WeChat’s security technology “to comply with relevant laws and regulations”.
The change comes at a time when China has been revising its privacy and data security policies – and cracking down on sectors it is trying to suppress such as private tutoring.
The government has launched a Personal Information Protection Act that requires technology platforms to impose stricter measures to ensure the secure storage of user data.
Social media users found Tencent Holdings’ popular app active again on Thursday morning. They said the steps to register looked the same as before.
The company said it had also upgraded its app to version 8.0.9, which allows simultaneous log-ins across multiple devices.
This was a highly requested feature, according to the South China Morning Post. It also allows customised ringtones.
All of this was newsworthy because WeChat is China’s biggest mobile application. More than 1.2 billion people use it to chat via its messaging service, read the news, its Weibo platform (like Twitter), or play games, shop, and pay for whatever they want, either online or at shops.
Since its launch in January 2011, the app has undergone about 100 updates, but it is rare for it to be unavailable to new users for days, Reuters said.
It has been an up and down week for Tencent. The company’s shares plunged on Tuesday after a state media article damned video games – one of Tencent’s biggest businesses – as “spiritual opium”.
That led to the company limiting access for children to its most popular game, a concession which saw its shares rise again.
- Jim Pollard and Reuters