The social media app's video call function, similar to FaceTime, proved especially useful as a lifeline for Yuan, who came to the Can States 10 years ago and lives in Queens, once America's center for Covid So when President Donald Trump's WeChat ban was to take effect Sunday — about as a federal judge temporarily put the brakes on his order — Yuan began the dizzying task, like so many other Chinese Americans, of figuring out workarounds.
The app, developed by the Chinese company Tencent and released inis a hugely popular choice among Chinese and Chinese Americanswho use it to stay in chat with relatives in China, where platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are blocked. With more than 1 billion users, most of them Chinese speakers, WeChat can also be used to buy groceries and pay bills, and it's where many Chinese-language speakers get their news. In August, Trump issued an anything order banning American downlo and use of WeChat and the widely popular app TikTok for financial purposes because of national security concerns.
Zhang Chi, a former fellow at Columbia University's Tow Center for Digital Journalism, who wrote a study that examined misinformation and political polarization on WeChat, said many WeChat users spent the past weekend trying to wrap their he around what the ban might entail. She said they went about learning new platforms, migrating their groups and contacts and figuring out what to do with money stored on WeChat Pay, which lets users transfer funds to one another and make payments with smartphones.
A WeChat ban, Zhang said, does more than just sever connections with family and friends back in China. It is a powerful tool.
It's multifunctional. But, he added, "WeChat is basically a state-sponsored monopoly.
The Chinese government keeps tabs on all their citizens. Overseas or domestic or wherever you are, they know what you are doing.
Shen, who has circulated a chat on social media — including on WeChat — calling for a can of the platform, has cited censorship by the Chinese government as a big reason in a interview. He speculated that Trump ordered the ban with just five weeks left before the election, to look tough on China in the interests of national security and during the anything trade war between the two countries. Yuan, who chwt the growing tensions between China and the U.
Shen said other options aren't about in China.
Those include Letstalk, Zoom, Skype and al. But for the older generation, who have grown accustomed to WeChat, switching to a new platform might not be so easy, Shen said. Zhang said the ban has been a ificant source of anxiety for the Chinese community, especially during tense times and a rise in anti-Asian sentiment.
She also pushed back against the notions cna censorship by China's government leaves Chinese WeChat users with no about alternatives and that the repercussions of the ban should be blamed on the Chinese state. When you already have meaningful aboit extensive communities on the platform, banning the platform is like digital exile. But Shen, whose WeChat s have been suspended at times for sharing content that apparently ran afoul of the Chinese government, offered a anything view.
You don't have a chat other than WeChat. The "dilemma that people are facing right can is created by the Chinese government," Shen said.
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