Chinese web giant Tencent blames ‘technical glitch’ for global censoring of chat app

London, Jan 15: Chinese web giant Tencent has denied claims that there is global censoring of its popular chat app WeChat, adding that a technical glitch had led to certain sensitive terms being blocked outside China.

Tech blogs, Tech in Asia and The Next Web, both reported receiving messages saying their chat entries contained “restricted words”, reports the BBC.

But one analyst said it was unlikely that the issue was just a “passing glitch”.

The Next Web tried to write the words “Falun Gong”, a group banned in China, and Tech in Asia attempted to send “Southern Weekend”, the name of a newspaper in the south of the country that is at the moment the subject of a controversy surrounding censorship.

The blogs said their entries were blocked.

The Chinese government is known to closely monitor internet traffic within China, and all web content that crosses the state’s borders.

China’s Great Firewall prevents a number of Western companies such as YouTube, Google+, Twitter, Dropbox, Facebook and Foursquare from operating inside the country.

When approached by Tech in Asia, Tencent issued a statement, apologizing for any inconvenience it has caused to users and said that a small number of WeChat international users were not able to send certain messages due to a technical glitch.

Tom Rafferty of the Economist Intelligence Unit said the issue was unlikely to be just “a passing glitch”, and said that such practices could pose technical and political challenges to Tencent because international users were accustomed to sharing information freely.

The latest incident, according to Rafferty is representative of the ‘growing pains’ that China’s internet and social media companies are likely to experience as they expand globally.

According to Tencent, WeChat has close to 300 million users, which makes it one of the world’s biggest messaging apps. (ANI)