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.
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Citizen Lab research showed that, at the time, WeChat seemed to use a relatively crude comparison between banned images and content uploaded to the site in order to decide what to block.
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.
WeChat and Sina Weibo adapted and evolved their censorship efforts in response to the death of Liu Xiaobo.
This report analyzes the information control practices related to a national crackdown on Chinese rights lawyers and activists on two leading Chinese social media networks. We document the Search filtering on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service, as well as keyword and image censorship on WeChat, the most popular chat app in China.
From January 2 to 13 2017, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is holding a popular Tibetan Buddhist teaching called Kalachakra in Bodh Gaya, India. Increased restrictions from the government of China has barred Tibetans in Tibet from attending the teachings. This report documents blocking of Kalachakra-related keywords on WeChat revealing how restrictions on the ritual extend online.
Citizen Lab Researcher Lotus Ruan was interviewed by VOA Mandarin on the recent release of the report entitled “One App Two Systems, How WeChat uses one censorship policy in China and another internationally.”
Director Ron Deibert spoke to CNN International on Citizen Lab’s recent report, titled “One App, Two Systems: How WeChat uses one censorship policy in China and another internationally.” Deibert commented on trends of censorship and surveillance in China, and Asian instant messaging applications more broadly.