After banning Kakaotalk and Line, China is now moving ahead with its plans to ‘clean’ up instant messaging apps. New guidelines appeared in a post from state media outlet Xinhua that require owners of public instant messaging accounts to register with the government and obtain permission to disseminate news. This mainly applies to those with public accounts like companies who use instant messaging for promotional campaigns or to engage customers; but also affects individuals who use instant messaging to communicate on a wider scale – like bloggers and citizen journalists.
It is the Chinese developed instant messaging apps like Weixin (the Chinese version of WeChat), Mi Talk, and Yixin that stand to be mostly affected by this new ruling. If only because foreign apps are either being blocked or are not popular enough to have widespread use.
In theory, this would also affect WeChat’s efforts for global expansion. Especially if these new guidelines affect perception about the security of the chat service. While WeChat is based on a separate infrastructure from Weixin, the association with such a ruling may make it harder for the general public to trust the service enough adopt it. Considering that WeChat is already doing well to penetrate other Asian markets, it cannot afford to lose momentum if it is to enter Western markets.
China’s crack down on technology has taken great strides this week with many foreign companies being removed from approved vendors lists and the blocking of Korean instant messaging apps. This could have be a knee jerk reaction to the terrorist attack on a police station in the Xinjiang province late last month, and it looks likely that the communist government is not yet done with reasserting its control over the population.