On May 7 2020, the Citizen Lab published a report that documents how WeChat (the most popular social app in China) conducts surveillance of images and files shared on the platform and uses the monitored content to train censorship algorithms. This document provides a summary of the research findings and questions and answers from the research team.
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WeChat communications conducted entirely among non-China-registered accounts are subject to pervasive content surveillance that was previously thought to be exclusively reserved for China-registered accounts.
The analysis of YY and WeChat indicates broad censorship—blocking sensitive terms as well as general information and neutral references—potentially limiting the public’s ability to access information that may be essential to their health and safety.
This campaign is the first documented case of one-click mobile exploits used to target Tibetan groups, and reflects an escalation in the sophistication of digital espionage threats targeting the community.
In this work, we study how Tencent implements image filtering on WeChat. We found that Tencent implements realtime, automatic censorship of chat images on WeChat based on what text is in an image and based on an image’s visual similarity to those on a blacklist. Tencent facilitates this realtime filtering by maintaining a hash index of MD5 hashes of sensitive image files.
New Citizen Lab research reveals how China’s most popular app filters sensitive images and suggests techniques for evasion.
This report demonstrates the technical underpinnings of how WeChat image censorship operates and suggests possible evasion strategies.
The 19th National Communist Party Congress was held from October 18-24 2017. WeChat, China’s most popular chat app, blocked a broad range of content related to the Congress.
This post recaps Citizen Lab’s major research reports for 2016, which span issues surrounding censorship, surveillance, privacy, and cybersecurity as they relate to fitness trackers, political dissidents, social media users, and more.
This research series presents an in-depth examination of mobile payment systems, a rapidly evolving form of financial technology. We will provide an overview of how they are used in China–where they are taking off faster than anywhere else in the world–and what implications their security and data protection practices may have for millions of users, by presenting a case study on Alipay.