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Facebook’s “news ban” in response to Australia’s proposed media bargaining code, has been hard to miss if you’ve spent any time on social networks in the past day or so. The social media platform has effectively halted all posting of links from Australian news pages and stopped people in Australia from posting or viewing international news as well.

Read more: Facebook's news is gone. Here's where to turn for trusted information

The change happened overnight, and may be undone if either Australia or Facebook backs down. But if the current situation continues, it may leave Facebook operating much more like the Chinese platform WeChat, where news is ruled by platform-specific content houses cranking out huge volumes of low-quality articles. And that might suit Facebook quite well — if not the public.

What is WeChat?

WeChat is the major social media platform in the People’s Republic of China. It’s also used by many people around the world, including in Australia. While the PRC and Australia have very different political systems, this shouldn’t stop us paying attention to their similarities.

WeChat is also the only messenger app beside Facebook that allows users to send and receive SMS text messages within the app. This means that if you have a few contacts that prefer to text, you can keep in touch without having to leave WeChat. Your messages will be displayed just as if they were via the native messaging platform. WeChat Pay Malaysia is a simple, secure & convenient mobile payment solution for all Malaysian WeChat users. Our customer support on Facebook. But Facebook has a long ways to go before it can truly emulate WeChat. China's messaging app is ubiquitous in China, used by more than 1 billion people globally. WeChat is used for texting, making.

WeChat is as privately owned as a company can be in China, and is often described as the Chinese Facebook. But WeChat is an even more pervasive platform, combining its own set of built-in tools, payment services and communications networks with a range of optional apps and utilities from messaging services to games and more.

Read more: Thinking of taking up WeChat? Here's what you need to know

In short, WeChat does everything. Because of this, entire news organisations have set up inside the platform. These are known as WeChat Official Accounts (WOAs), and are roughly equivalent to “blue tick” accounts on other platforms such as Twitter.

If Facebook’s Australian news embargo continues, we think something like the WeChat model might develop here. In our research, we have shown it’s very common for features and interface elements to move between English and Mandarin digital media.

People might have a general idea that some aspects of US-based social media have been reproduced by Mandarin language services (such as WeChat’s Instagram-copying “Moments” product) but the copying goes both ways. The stickers, GIFs, QR codes, live commenting, and direct messaging used by the likes of Faceboook, Twitter and LinkedIn were copied from WeChat, Weibo and Bilibili.

How news works on WeChat

Countless media entrepreneurs have set up WOAs since they were launched in August 2013. These accounts produce millions of news posts every day, and unlike traditional media outlets posting on Facebook, these posts are not accompanied by external links to a version of the article hosted elsewhere. WeChat is their whole audience, and they make money by renting out advertising space within their articles.

One of us (Fan Yang) conducted research with 24 Australian-Chinese employees of WOAs. These organisations appear to employ far fewer journalists than traditional media — and sometimes none at all. There are already many Australian-run WOAs operating almost entirely with short-term interns, most of whom do not identify themselves as professional journalists. Instead they are content producers translating published English news into Mandarin and reappropriating stories with editorial spin.

Read more: How Australia’s Mandarin speakers get their news

These organisations largely rehash existing news content, often with clickbait headlines and exaggerated accounts of events. Stories are often aggregated from multiple news sources, or simply copied entirely, perhaps being passed through an automated translation service twice to avoid directly reproducing sentences.

From the fringes to the mainstream

Face Chat Apps

If we were to see the development of platform-specific Facebook news services modelled on the WeChat system, only a handful of media workers would be needed. They would perform multiple roles as writers, editors, marketers, content producers and translators.

As these jobs might only require marginal professional experience in a specific field (such as politics, lifestyle, sports, or nature and environment), the work could be outsourced to places or regions where the labour cost is lower.

Wechat

With the shrinking readership and advertising revenue in the traditional news industry, content farms and outsourced journalism have already become a common way to churn out a high volume of speedy and inexpensive content. Many fringe groups already operate this way on Facebook, run by anti-vaxxers, flat-Earthers, white supremacists and more. In the absence of more traditional news on Facebook, there is no reason this model couldn’t spread further.

Information control

When comparing China and Australia, we often think of divisions such as China’s shutdown of the “foreign” internet since 2009 and the current diplomatic and trade tensions. However, both nations have seen similar shifts in the way that information is controlled on their dominant platforms, and both have high levels of media concentration.

Whether the changes to Facebook will lead to increased levels of WeChat-style platform-specific news production houses, or an increased visibility of those that already exist, remains to be seen. This may depend on how independent and start-up media find a way forward, although we believe the WeChat model may be successful for some.

We would suggest, however, that there are already two key messages to take away from the current situation. The first is to note that while regulation of social media is possible, political will is largely absent without the support of incumbent media organisations. This can be seen in the deals Google has recently established with several media companies.

Also, only Google and Facebook have been the focus of the media bargaining code so far. Can we expect regulation of Reddit, Discord, TikTok, WeChat, Twitter, or even MySpace and Ello? What about news platforms that link to other news platforms? These developments have not yet played out.

The second is that Facebook will defend its capacity to operate on its own terms, and will fight hard to prevent either states or competitors dictating how its services operate or how it governs content. Despite Facebook refusing to accept journalistic outlets as formal competitors (as this would likely invoke various national oversight mechanisms for journalistic content), they are nonetheless in competition for audiences and advertising.

Anything that could shift people into Facebook-specific news-advertising contexts with independent editorial teams would be a highly desirable outcome for the platform.

LONDON (AP) — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is taking the social media company in a new direction by focusing on messaging. Chinese tech giant Tencent got there years ago with its app WeChat.

Zuckerberg outlined his vision to give people ways to communicate privately, by stitching together Facebook’s various services so users can contact each other across all of the apps.

That sounds strikingly similar to WeChat, which has become essential for daily life in China. WeChat, or Weixin as it’s known in Chinese, combines functions and services that in the West are done by a number of separate companies — think of Facebook and its Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram services combined with PayPal and Uber.

WeChat, launched in 2011, has the usual chat features — instant messaging and voice and video calling, though it doesn’t employ top-notch encryption like Facebook’s Whatsapp. Here’s a look at what else it does.

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MOBILE MONEY

The WeChat Pay digital wallet is one big reason the app has become an indispensable part of life for people in China. By linking a credit card or bank account, users can pay for almost anything: movie tickets, food delivery orders and subway and bus tickets.

You can split restaurant bills with your friends, pay your electricity bill, store digital coupons, and donate to charities. There’s a “quick pay” function that lets users scan a matrix barcode to pay instead of pulling out cash or a payment card.

You can also hail a ride from Didi Chuxing, China’s equivalent of Uber.

And in a uniquely Chinese touch, WeChat users can send each other virtual “hong bao” or “red packets,” money that is traditionally gifted in red envelopes during the Lunar New Year holiday.

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SOCIAL

Difference Between Qq And Wechat

The app hosts group chats where users can discuss topics like sports, technology, social issues, investment ideas, celebrities, breaking news and beyond. WeChat Moments is a scrolling social media feed where users can write posts and share photos and videos.

The app rolled out a new feature this year, Time Capsule, that removes user videos after 24 hours, in an apparent attempt to mimic Facebook’s Stories feature.

Users can also send friends digital stickers, get access to online games and find out who’s nearby by shaking their phone.

Companies and organizations both inside and outside China can use the app for marketing by setting up an official account. Travel booking platform AirBnb, luxury goods company Chanel and Chinese tech giant Huawei are among brands with a presence on WeChat.

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Wechat Sign Up

THE CHINESE MODEL

WeChat and Weixin had nearly 1.1 billion users as of September, up 2.3 percent from the previous quarter and 10 percent from the previous year, according to its most recent quarterly earnings report .

Difference

It is wildly popular in mainland China and less so in other countries, which is unsurprising because the communist leaders in Beijing have blocked its citizens from accessing Facebook and other Silicon Valley services for years.

But there’s one thing that WeChat doesn’t let users do: speak freely. Politically sensitive posts are regularly scrubbed from the service, illustrating how the app has become a key part of China’s censorship regime because of its huge user base and outsize social influence. Hong Kong University researchers found that about 11,000 articles were removed from WeChat last year, a number that doesn’t include posts blocked before publication by automatic keyword filters.

WeChat also lacks so-called end-to-end encryption, considered the gold standard for privacy and used by Facebook and other services like Signal and Apple’s iMessages.

Chinese dissidents and activists have long suspected that authorities are able to monitor what they’ve been saying on the app. The company, however, has denied it keeps a record of user chats.

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For all of AP’s tech coverage, visit: https://apnews.com/apf-technology