Xiaowei Wang & An Xiao Mina on WeChat

24 Sep, 2020

Xiaowei Wang & An Xiao Mina on WeChat

Xiaowei Wang (Geography) and An Xiao Mina published "WeChat Has Both Connected Families and Torn Them Apart" in Slate! In the article, they discuss how the app has both been used by the Chinese government to silence and punish critic, and been a source for connection across communities. But banning the app, they argue, doesn't make anyone safer.

From the article:

While a TikTok ban would disrupt the U.S. influencer economy and eliminate a space of true joy during these pandemic times, a ban on WeChat would cut off one of the few social tethers between mainland China, which already has stringent internet control mechanisms in place, and the U.S. Because of China’s Great Firewall restrictions on most popular messaging apps, people in the U.S. with familial, business, and social ties to China—whether Chinese Americans, Tibetan refugees, Uyghurs, or former expats—already face severe restrictions to speaking with loved ones on the mainland—. Equally troubling is how these bans allow executive powers to dictate the internet access of people in the U.S. with little oversight, breaking further democratic norms and processes.

WeChat has both connected families and torn them apart. Indeed, from a security and user privacy perspective, WeChat has long deserved significant international scrutiny. The app has served as a central tool for one of the world’s most effective and innovative practitioners of censorship and repression. Meanwhile, bans on WeChat and TikTok would do little to actually protect U.S. users’ data privacy or ensure national security. If the concern were simply about the potential for the Chinese government to access Americans’ data, then the government would have also blocked other popular applications, like Ant Financial’s Alipay and Tencent’s other messaging app, QQ.

To read the article, please click here!

And don't forget to join us for...

Common Conversations

Blockchain Chicken Farm and Grass Mud Horses

16 Nov, 2020

with Xiaowei Wang and An Xiao Mina

Register for Zoom link here!
Or stream on YouTube at:

Join us for a conversation about trans-Pacific internet cultures and social change with Xiaowei Wang and An Xiao Mina! Xiaowei will discuss their forthcoming book, Blockchain Chicken Farm: And Other Stories of Tech in China's Countryside (FSG, 2020), an original and probing look into innovation, connectivity, and collaboration in the digitized rural world. An Xiao Mina will discuss their recent book, From Memes to Movements: How the World’s Most Viral Media is Changing Social Protest and Power (Beacon Press, 2019), a global exploration of internet memes as agents of pop culture, politics, protest, and propaganda on- and offline, and how they will save or destroy us all.