Citizen Lab, a research group out of the University of Toronto, has for the past several months been analyzing how censorship works on We Chat, an app that is ubiquitous in China with well over 800 million users.
While Citizen Lab has found evidence of censorship on We Chat in the past, its new report shows how the content that triggers censors gets updated as the environment of sensitive material evolves.
Operating a chat application in China requires following laws and regulations on content control and monitoring.
Accordingly, the popularity of We Chat has also been met with suspicions of surveillance and media reports of censorship.
It is not clear how many Russia-based users the app has.
"We're experiencing a block and we're deeply sorry," a company official said on a Tencent microblog.
Sites that breach the law are added to a blacklist and internet providers are obliged to block access.
The law prompted criticism from internet companies but entered into force in September 2015, with professional networking site Linked In blocked after it was found to have broken the law.
It offers payment, ride-hailing and other services and Tencent has ambitions to spread it far beyond its home country.
QUEENS, New York – On any given Saturday afternoon in Kissena Park, a central gathering place in the New York borough of Queens, it’s not hard to find a group of middle-aged Chinese immigrants wearing traditional dress and doing a photo shoot, just for fun.
Later, the mixed group might play badminton, or hit up a karaoke bar to belt out a few songs.
They specifically looked at how We Chat treats messages related to China’s targeting of hundreds of human-rights lawyers—detaining, questioning, and disappearing them—in the so-called “709 Crackdown” that began on July 9, 2015.
By attempting to send messages with text related to the crackdown and the lawyers affected, Citizen Lab found that politically sensitive material simply does not get sent on We Chat at all.