WeChat: smart or dangerous?

Irene de Groot

/Please note that this is a really small essay that I wrote in order to apply for something, it was not allowed to exceed a maximum of 300 words. However, I decided to post this here since I believe this is a very interesting topic that could spark a debate./

WeChat, created by the Chinese company Tencent in 2011, is an app that contains various functions. Besides chatting, the user can also access a virtual wallet, make use of services, post pictures or messages on a timeline, order products online and book flights. As opposed to the Western digital world, China combined everything one single app. So, instead of having to download many different apps, you can manage your digital life through just one. Is China ahead of the Netherlands in this case, or is it not smart at all?

One argument in favor of WeChat is that it is easy to use. It is a nice option to have everything in one place. As consumer you do not have to switch between apps in order to arrange things or to catch up with others.

The app also has advantages for companies. Companies can create profiles within WeChat and can thus gain viewers and customers. A disadvantage is that companies are now part of this app that also contains the social aspect of a digital society, they can therefore invade people’s privacy.

Privacy is the major issue regarding WeChat. Tencent has access to all data about people’s lives. Although a counter argument is that this is an issue we also already face in the Netherlands. Even though our data is spread across many apps, privacy is still a luxury that we can no longer enjoy.

To conclude I would say that WeChat is a thrilling innovation that could be successful in The Netherlands as well. WeChat is smart as well as dangerous, but the intelligence behind this app exceeds the danger of it.