A new report has emerged that documents and images shared by users outside China on WeChat, the country’s most popular social media platform, are being monitored and cataloged for use in political censorship in China.
On Thursday, a report suggested that WeChat users outside of China are thus unwittingly contributing to censorship.
Citizen Lab, the University of Toronto online watchdog claimed this in the study.
Tencent, who operates WeChat, did not immediately respond to an online inquiry seeking comment.
Until now, WeChat was not known to be subjecting accounts registered outside of China to the same pervasive surveillance as domestic accounts.
An estimated 100 million people use WeChat outside China, according to the Munich firm MessengerPeople.
Citizen Lab says its findings are based on technical experiments. It says it did not detect censorship in communications among accounts registered outside China.
But it says it did identify surveillance of content being sent exclusively between such accounts.
Tencent does not clearly state in its terms of service that it is monitoring accounts registered outside of China, Citizen Lab says.