(Yicai Global) March 28 -- WeChat has refuted claims that the Chinese social network and lifestyle platform sifts through users' chat histories to push more effective targeted advertisements.
The Tencent platform denied reports that it monitors chat records to customize ads, state-backed news outlet The Paper reported, adding that the Shenzhen firm bases them on a user's clicks within the app.
WeChat, along with multiple other apps, had been accused of using artificial intelligence to identify keywords in chats and target users accordingly in a report in Guangzhou-based tabloid Southern Metropolis Daily on March 25.
WeChat attributed similarities between users' chat records and targeted ads to their clicking habits. For example, skin care advertisers tend to target women in a certain age group, and they are also highly likely to discuss such topics in online conversations. This coincidence may lead to misunderstandings among users, the firm added.
Without monitoring a user's chat history, apps are still able to collect a large amount of metadata on an individual including phone number, email address, internet protocol address, avatar, date of birth and handle among others, an internet expert told The Paper. "It is almost impossible to be completely invisible online," he said.
Editor: William Clegg