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WeChat Is China’s Everything App, and the ‘We’ Is Looking Suspicious

TikTok may have started the Chinese app security debate, but WeChat has policed the messages and chatter of its users to toe the Communist Party line.

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Illustration: Patrik Mollwing for Bloomberg Businessweek

When the Trump administration issued executive orders on Aug. 6 that would essentially ban the Chinese apps WeChat and TikTok over national security concerns, executives at TikTok were quick to distance themselves from any user anxiety over the social media phenomenon’s relationship with the mother country and authorities there.

WeChat was less quick to push back. That’s because Tencent Holdings Ltd., the company that owns WeChat, has for years worked to keep the app aligned with the values of China’s ruling Communist Party. The day after the ban was announced, Tencent—which has a market cap of more than $660 billion—simply said it was “reviewing the potential consequences” of the executive order; it later tried to make a distinction between the app’s Chinese and overseas versions but didn’t address U.S. security allegations.