Tencent revealed today that it has shut down a whopping 20 million accounts on its WeChat messaging app, as they were linked with providing prostitution services. It has also closed 30,000 public fake accounts.
Assuming the accounts were active, this takes away quite a significant chunk of WeChat’s current monthly active userbase which just passed 396 million.
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China started a crackdown on the messaging app industry late last month, targeting accounts which are determined to spread rumors and information related to matters including terrorism and pornography, as well as those involved in fraud. Weixin — the version of WeChat offered in China — is the most popular chat app in the country, which explains the huge number of accounts being wiped out.
Last week, WeChat also said it was going to start cleaning up its platform for official accounts from June 9 onwards to “protect the user experience” as there have been signs of abuse in terms of fraud and harassment of users. On a daily basis, WeChat revealed that it also removes 10 million advertisements that are linked with fraud or don’t adhere to regulations.
In January, Tencent also set up a fund worth CNY10 million ($1.6 million) to reward those who report accounts that break the rules. Already, the company has received 150,000 reports through the platform.
From March till now, Tencent has also cleaned up its other social networks QQ and QQ Zone, removing 20 million spam messages, 250,000 malicious accounts, and removed over 70 million postings that were deemed to spread pornography or were related to fraud.
Under the whole initiative to remove accounts that are deemed harmful to WeChat though, is the risk of political censorship (Read: China’s latest crackdown on messaging apps casts a shadow on WeChat’s global expansion plans).
Headline image via WeChat