WeChat has been censoring keywords about coronavirus, study finds

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

China’s most popular messaging app, Tencent-owned WeChat, has been censoring keywords about coronavirus since as early as January 1st, an analysis found. Popular Chinese livestreaming platform YY has been censoring coronavirus content, too.

To make this determination, the research group Citizen Lab scripted group chat conversations and sent them to three test WeChat accounts, two in Canada and one in China. The chat conversations consisted of article headlines and text. The group, which is affiliated with the University of Toronto, sent them from one of the Canadian WeChat accounts to the Chinese one, and observed which messages the Chinese account got. 132 keyword combinations were censored in January, but that number rose to 516…

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