Chinese cyberspace is one of the most surveilled and censored in the world. That includes WeChat. Owned by Tencent, one of China’s biggest companies, the chat-meets-payment app has more than 1 billion monthly users in China and now serves users outside the country, too, although it does not divulge how many. Researchers say its use abroad has extended the global reach of China’s surveillance and censorship methods.
“The intention of keeping people safe by building these systems goes out the window the moment you don’t secure them at all,” says Victor Gevers, co-founder of the nonprofit GDI Foundation, an open-source data security collective.
Every day, Gevers scans the Internet for vulnerabilities to find unsecured databases, and he has exposed a large number of them, particularly linked to China.
Parallel running of two social media from different countries: WeChat and blog for international students
Our work with Chinese students from the Confucius Institute (CI) at St. Cloud State University (SCSU) shed light on an interesting development: in the last several years, the popular Chinese social media platform WeChat dominates the social life of Chinese people, Chinese students in particular.
Based on the WeChat affinity of the Chinese students at the SCSU CI program, the program organizers faced difficulty applying other social media platforms, as part of the curricula of the host country. Namely, blog, as one of the widely used SM platform for creative writing (citation comes here), was contemplated as a SM platform for the Chinese students to journal their experience at the SCSU CI program. Since WeChat behaves rather like Facebook and Snapchat, the lack of opportunity to utilize widely available platform for rather lengthy narration (versus SMS/texting abilitis of Twitter and WeChat) convince the SCSU CI program organizers to seek the buy in by Chinese students into the blog initiative.
Pang (2018) builds a theory based on Ellison (2007) theory of “maintained social capital,” namely the ability of individuals to maintain values of social ties when geographically disconnected. Ping (2018) further narrows her research on Chinese students in Germany using Li and Chen (2014) findings about Ellison’s theory on students in a foreign environment and the necessity for these students to build a new circle of friends in the host country. According to Basilisco an Cha (2015), such environment was provided for Filipino students by using Facebook and Twitter.
Agur, C., Belair-Gagnon, V., & Frish, N. (2018). Mobile sourcing: A case study of journalistic norms and usage of chat apps. Mobile Meida and Communication, 6(1), 53–70. https://doi.org/DOI: 10.1177/2050157917725549
Chen, Y. (2017). WeChat use among Chinese college students: Exploring gratifications and political engagement in China. Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 10(1), 25–43. https://doi.org/10.1080/17513057.2016.1235222
Pang, H. (2016). Understanding key factors affecting young people’s WeChat usage: an empirical study from uses and gratifications perspective. International Journal of Web Based Communities, 12(3), 262. https://doi.org/10.1504/IJWBC.2016.077757
Pang, H. (2018). Understanding the effects of WeChat on perceived social capital and psychological well-being among Chinese international college students in Germany. Aslib Journal of Information Management, 70(3), 288–304. https://doi.org/DOI 10.1108/AJIM-01-2018-0003
Run Zhi Zhu, X. L. X. (2015). The Influence of Social Media on Sleep Quality: A Study of Undergraduate Students in Chongqing, China. Journal of Nursing & Care, 04(03). https://doi.org/10.4172/2167-1168.1000253
Wang, Y., Fang, W.-C., Han, J., & Chen, N.-S. (2016). Exploring the affordances of WeChat for facilitating teaching, social and cognitive presence in semi-synchronous language exchange. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology. https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.2640
China paradox in Australia? Take a look. Pro-China protestors in the country enjoying democratic freedoms – including speech and assembly – by harassing pro-#HongKong protestors who want to protect own similar democratic freedoms in Hong Kong. 🤷🏽♂️🤷🏽♂️🤷🏽♂️ #HongKongProtests#antiELABhttps://t.co/yDBpA5rG02
Chinese government uses WeChat to spy on everyone who uses it, and they use it in the same way Facebook uses fake news to mobilize far right groups. Hong Kong protestors avoid it like the plague https://t.co/KIvK7FyUHP
“Netnography” has been developed for online community researchers. It is “net” plus “ethnography,” which is based on the traditional ethnography and combines with the qualitative analysis for online interactive contents forms of virtual community members. The aim of doing netnographic research is to study the subculture, interactive process and characteristics of collective behaviors of online communities (Kozinets 2009). Follow the development of Internet technology, the web–based method is more convenient and cost–effect in data collection. Members in virtual groups create a large number of interactive texts, pictures, network expressions and other original information over time, which provides an extremely rich database to researchers. Moreover, from the data collection’s point of view, this online observation method will not interfere with the whole research process, which is better than questionnaires and quantitative modeling (Moisander and Valtonen 2006). Additionally, Kozinets (2009) also pointed that netnogrpahy emphasize on the research background, observers not only focus on the text during communications but also need to pay attention to the characteristics of language, history, meaning and communication types. Even parse fonts, symbols, images and photo data. These content of studies are significant in social communication, which is called “Cultural Artifact.” On the other hand, netnography is based on traditional ethnography as a methodology; therefore it inherits the research processes of ethnographic method. Kozients (2009) reinterpreted these procedures for netnography as Firstly, to determine the research target and understand its cultural characteristics; Secondly, to collect and analyze information; Thirdly, to ensure the credibility of interpretation; Fourthly, pay attention to research ethics; Lastly, to obtain respondents feedbacks. To make my research adapting to this guidelines, I make my research process as 1. To target on Plymouth Chinese overseas students and to explain the Chinese guanxi; 2. To collect and analyze data through the existing WeChat group created by Plymouth Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA); 3. To confirm the identity of key influencers in this virtual group; 4. To get feedbacks from respondent as much as possible.
Nebel, S., Schneider, S., & Rey, G. D. (2016). Mining Learning and Crafting Scientific Experiments: A Literature Review on the Use of Minecraft in Education and Research. Journal Of Educational Technology & Society, 19(2), 355-366.