Most people in the west are familiar with Tencent through their gaming ventures, namely PUBG, which was published under their name even though they only own 11.5% of it.
Over the last decade, they’ve also purchased 100% of Riot Games, 84% of Supercell, 80% of Grinding Gear Games, 40% of Epic Games, 5% of Ubisoft, 5% of Activision Blizzard, and more.
Tencent is actually much more than that in China.
Among other things, they own the social media space, which mainly consists of WeChat, QQ Messenger, and Qzone.
WeChat in particular is China’s largest and most dominant network.
It goes far beyond just being social with all its “mini-programs” that let you order food, use public transportation, handle payments, create companies, etc.
WeChat absolutely controls the digital world in China, practically making it their entire internet.
Imagine, then, the frustration of users who lose their accounts.
Specifically, for talking about coronavirus.
Hundreds of users have taken to Weibo, Twitter and elsewhere apologizing to Tencent and desperately asking for their accounts to be reinstated because they don’t understand what they’ve done wrong.
Lots of WeChat accounts got suspended permanently since yesterday for coronavirus posts. Many are ordinary ppl who rarely talked about politics and losing WeChat means losing all social contacts. They desperately asked Tencent to give the accounts back on Weibo. pic.twitter.com/TtcV2F7hiJ
— Lin Qiqing (@lqq91926) February 6, 2020
The posts, roughly translated, mostly talk about how much they love their country and the Chinese Communist Party, claiming to have only shared news from the state media.
Basically, their livelihood has been cut off for “spreading malicious rumors.”
One post of note said “If you want me to stay away from the [political] discussion, I’ll stay away.”
Many of these banned users have claimed to rarely talk about politics, if ever.
Some suggested that this may be a result of their search history that may have included certain “sensitive” terms.
This highlights President Xi Jinping’s doubling down on censorship efforts in China in recent years.
Coronavirus seems to be a particularly sensitive subject, as we saw in the attempts to censor Dr. Li Wenliang and the others who tried to warn about the outbreak of the virus before the government acknowledged it.