WeChat is Censoring Bitmain and Crypto Analysts
WeChat has begun censoring accounts related to cryptocurrency, including Bitmain and price prediction accounts online.
Bitmain, the world’s largest crypto mining hardware manufacturer, just had its WeChat ID (antminersale) blocked earlier today. When you search for content previously posted by the account, you’ll arrive at a page explaining that Bitmain violated WeChat’s rules. Here’s how WeChat justifies the ban:
“Following users' complaints, the platform has reviewed and discovered that this account – without having acquired authorized credentials or licenses – has been publishing and distributing information of relevant businesses it is involved in.”
The WeChat Bitmain ban was spotted and reported by CoinDesk. CoinDesk also noticed that a separate Bitmain account called antminer_official remains active at press time. That account is dedicated to providing product information for mining equipment – not strictly Bitmain sales.
WeChat is infamous for its censorship and user tracking. The messaging app is heavily monitored by the Chinese government. WeChat’s parent company Tencent, meanwhile, has also cracked down on crypto-related activities on the platform in recent months.
Crypto Analysts Are Also Being Banned from WeChat
Crypto analysts are also being banned as part of the apparent WeChat crackdown against crypto.
Earlier today, an official crypto market analysis account called Goldcoins was banned from WeChat, for example. Goldcoins had published crypto market analysis for the past nine months online. Goldcoins confirmed his WeChat ban on Chinese social networking website Zhihu.
Goldcoins wasn’t the only victim of the Wechat cracked down. Blockchain startup Delphy, for example, had their official WeChat account banned. Delphy is an Ethereum-based application that works in a similar way to Augur. Delphy was banned from WeChat on Monday.
WeChat justified the ban of Goldcoins and Delphy in the same way it justified the Bitmain ban: a vague mention of the accounts having violated the terms of service of the platform.
It comes as no surprise that WeChat is censoring people on its platform. WeChat is owned by internet giant Tencent and has grown to become the most popular messaging tool in China.
It’s widely known that WeChat is monitored by the Chinese government, and some even believe that the Chinese government has complete backdoor access to the messaging application and user chat history. Earlier this year, the government admitted to collecting and monitoring deleted WeChat messages of users, and then using those messages to convict the users of crimes.
Last year, WeChat admitted that it is “sharing pretty much all of their private data with the Chinese government.”
Similarly, activists have been arrested for private WeChat messages. Journalists report that information they send on WeChat is routinely intercepted by Chinese government officials. The Chinese government also blocks sensitive images on the platform – including images referencing politically sensitive subjects.
In one famous instance, a Chinese construction worker was arrested for five days after telling a joke about a politician in a private WeChat group.
China banned most aspects of crypto and blockchain in September 2017, and it’s easy to connect today’s bans to last year’s crackdown. The Chinese government clearly isn’t a supporter of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.
It may not even be the Chinese government implementing the WeChat bans. It may be WeChat’s parent organization, Tencent. Tencent recently targeted several major cryptocurrency media sources in China, including several sources that were allegedly distributed information for initial coin offerings in WeChat.
In total, more than 30 official blockchain and cryptocurrency accounts have been shut down in this latest crackdown.
Clearly, if you value privacy and an open internet, then WeChat is not the right messaging app. Today’s widespread crypto crackdown highlights just how monitored and controlled WeChat is in China.