WeChat, China’s dominant social messaging app, is seemingly taking further steps in the China’s fight against cryptocurrency. Following an alleged violation of its rules, the “WhatsApp of China” has reportedly suspended accounts held by a handful of cryptocurrency, blockchain-related websites, according to a report by local financial news outlet Lanjinger.
In one example, the official accounts of Huobi News and Coindaily on Tencent’s WeChat have been blocked, while links to all previous content are now merely showing a notification that reads:
“Due to users’ complaints and after the platform’s examinations, the account is found to violate ‘Temporary Regulations on the Development and Management of Public Information Services for Instant Messaging Tools’ and all contents have been banned. The account has been prohibited for use.”
As noted, WeChat is citing “Temporary Regulations on the Development and Management of Public Information Services for Instant Messaging Tools” which were introduced by China’s powerful Internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), earlier this month.
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While there are no figures on how many accounts have faced the same situation, at least 8 such groups were reportedly blocked, with some already attracting more than 100,000 users in a single room, mostly speaking Chinese.
Migrating to other services
This could be only the beginning of a lengthy crackdown designed to give WeChat more power to police not only the cryptocurrency content that is being posted to its platform, but also projects and people who are posting it. WeChat is, therefore, joining its parent, Tencent, which banned in January all payment and advertising services for cryptocurrency trading and ICO-related activities.
Something that is quite interesting is that WeChat’s mobile payment service, which is used by nearly millions of users in China, has been one of the largest access channels to cryptocurrency exchanges. Despite the wider ban by Chinese authorities, the app includes discussion groups where cryptocurrencies are discussed and ICO is promoted.
The crackdown, however, could send cryptocurrency devotees migrating to Telegram and other encrypted services beyond the Chinese government’s reach. Although banned in the China, users can access the service through virtual private networks (VPNs), which allows their activities to stay a bit out of the grasp of the country’s authorities.