Warning: *privacy not included with this product
Review date: 09/08/2021
WeChat is a hugely popular social media and messaging app owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent. And when we say popular, we mean it’s one of the most downloaded apps in the world, with over a billion active users. It’s also one of the least private messaging apps we've come across. It offers all the features -- text chat, video and voice chat, location sharing, stickers, games, WeChat Pay, and even ways to exercise with your friends. Which is great. Just don't expect anything you do on WeChat to be private.
What could happen if something goes wrong
Ding! Ding! Ding! WeChat earns our *Privacy Not Included warning label for good reason. WeChat isn't just bad at privacy, it's scary. Where to start? The lack of end-to-end encryption? Not a deal breaker, but not great.The leak of hundreds of millions of private chat logs? Definitely bad! The reported recent banning of LGBTQ friendly and feminist accounts? Yikes! The alleged foreign surveillance and censorship. Terrible! Yes, WeChat has a huge billion+ user base. Yes, it’s very popular and feature rich. But none of that outweighs WeChat's bad track record on privacy and security. The bottom line: we feel the only way to protect your privacy when using WeChat, is to never use WeChat. *Privacy is absolutely not included.
Can it snoop on me?
What is required to sign up?
Third party account
Optional Facebook sign up is available.
What data does it collect?
Name, user alias, mobile phone number, password, gender, IP address, detailed location data (from GPS, IP address, compass, accelerometer, or public posts that contain location information). Optional: Emergency Contacts, Managed Devices, Email address, Facebook Connect OpenID, Facebook Connect Token, Facebook Username, QQ ID, and if you opt in: credit card number, facial mapping/detection, and/or Sign in with Apple. Any information that you include in your publicly-visible WeChat profile, which may include your profile ID, name, and photo.
All of the information you make available to other users via WeChat. Content of communications between you and another user or group of users. Your on-device contact list. Web search terms used, social media profiles visited, and details of other information and content accessed or requested by you in using WeChat.
What is the company’s known track record for protecting users’ data?
WeChat allegedly censors private conversations automatically in real life, for both Chinese and non-Chinese users. In March 2019, a database of 364 million records of users from China was discovered on the Internet. Each record, drawn from apps like WeChat and QQ, also contained personally identifying Chinese citizen ID numbers, photos, addresses, GPS location data, and info on the type of device being used. The database also sent data back to 17 remote servers in different provinces in China. There is a suspicion that the data gets distributed among police stations. WeChat also reportedly shut down hundreds of LGBTQ+ friendly accounts in July 2021.
Can this product be used offline?
User friendly privacy information?
Links to privacy information
Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards?
Uses encryption but no end-to-end encryption
Password is needed to set up an account. Password must be 8-16 characters and contain both numbers and letters/special characters.
Since its launch in 2011, over 100 updates.
Tencent operates a security response center.
Does the product use AI?
Does the AI use your personal data to make decisions about you?
Does the company allow users to see how the AI works?
WeChat runs a WeChat AI hub, which openly focuses on such applications as Speech and Audio recognition, Natural Language Processing, face recognition, content understanding, etc. A major concern is that this AI enables censorship, blocking links, images, topics or audio.