WeChat is an effective messaging application used to communicate to and within China. Because WeChat servers are China-based, travelers to China will continue to have access to WeChat, unlike other popular social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Snapchat, and Twitter, which are often blocked by China’s state network.
One can be fairly assured that communication through WeChat can’t be eavesdropped casually by other WeChat users, however, it is well documented that both the company Tencent and the Chinese Government have access, and can and do monitor communications through WeChat.
It is incumbent upon the user to follow WPI’s information security policies and not transmit any confidential information through WeChat or any other social media Platforms.
Using the proper precautions, WeChat can be used to successfully and safely to advance WPI’s efforts in China.
WeChat Safety and Security
WeChat is as safe as other popular messaging and communication apps, as it requires user registration, a verified mobile phone number, and a password to sign in. So long as the user continually protects their password and their mobile device, no one can access their messages or personal profile.
WeChat is secure because it is password protected, so as long as you don’t share your account info with anyone, your messages will stay private, between you and your contacts. This keeps your account secure, however, by default, WeChat keeps the user signed into the app, even when they close it.
This means that if you lose your mobile device or it is stolen, anyone who can access your device can see your messages, and send messages as you. Ensure you sign out of WeChat each time you finish using it to prevent this from happening to you, and to keep your messages as private as possible.
One safety concern associated with WeChat is that when you sign up, your privacy settings are set for you, and by default, allow other users to find you and request you as a contact simply by searching for those who are nearby. Ensure you manage your privacy settings as soon as you sign up, and set them to what you are comfortable with. See the safety tips below for more information on this.
How reliable is WeChat?
WeChat is a reliable messaging service, as long as the user maintains a connection to the Internet. Users frequently send and receive messages and images, and make voice or video calls with few issues. The service itself is reliable; issues with connections generally stem from a weak connection to the Internet.
6 safety tips when using WeChat
1. Create a secure password for your WeChat account.
When signing up for WeChat, you will be required to create a password. Use a different password than you use to log into WPI services. Make sure this is at least 8 characters, but ideally 12-15 characters, with a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. This will make it far more difficult for someone to guess your password, or gain entry into your account.
2. Change your privacy settings immediately.
When you create an account, you should view your privacy settings and update them to a level you are comfortable with. You can change how users can add you or find you on WeChat, and block any unfriendly users. Tap any toggle button to enable or disable a setting (if the toggle is pushed right and green, it is enabled, and if it is pushed left and grey, it is disabled).
3. Don’t add other users that you don’t know.
WeChat lets you look for other users nearby, and send them greetings hoping they will add you, but adding people you don’t know on WeChat is the same as talking to strangers. You never know who you’re interacting with, and their profile descriptions and pictures may not be representative of who they truly are. Stick to the friends you know, and avoid adding people you don’t know.
4. Don’t use the WeChat “Shake” function.
WeChat “Shake” is a function on WeChat where you shake your mobile device and can see who else is shaking on WeChat at the same time as you, all over the world. By default, these users will send you a greeting, and you can respond, thereby adding them to your contacts. Though this is a unique way to connect with new people all over the world, it also has some safety concerns, primarily, that the greetings are sent by default. Some users send offensive or inappropriate greetings, or even spam, trying to get you to you to visit their websites. If you’re concerned about safety, simply avoid WeChat “Shake.”
5. Think carefully before pressing send, for all messages.
Remember that once you press send, you have given the user you are sending to control over your words and images. Though you can easily delete WeChat messages, this only occurs on your end. Your contact has full control over what you have sent and can share it with whomever they like. Be sure you’re okay with this before pressing send; as with all digital messaging services, you can never take it back once you have put it out there.
6. Always sign out of your account when you’re finished.
When you’re finished using the app:
- Tap the Me menu
- Followed by Settings
- And finally tap Log Out
This means the next time you want to use WeChat, you will have to enter your password again. This prevents anyone else who physically has your mobile device (whether it is stolen or you lose it), from accessing your account and messages. It is always good practice to do this with all of your downloaded apps.