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Sorry for the censorship says Chinese chat service

Tencent blames technical glitch for WeChat foreign censorship incident

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Chinese web giant Tencent has released a statement blaming a “technical glitch” for problems that last week led to disruptions for international users of its popular WeChat app last week.

The popular Whatsapp-like application is approaching 300 million global users and although most of these are still located in the People’s Republic, the service is increasingly favoured by users beyond the middle kingdom.

However, in an apparent blow to Tencent’s international expansion plans reports emerged at the tail end of last week that users were finding messages containing certain words China's government isn't fond ofwere being blocked.

Tests of the service in Singapore and Thailand and found that any attempts to reference China's controversial Southern Weekly newspaper led to the following error message: “The message ‘南方周末’ you sent contains restricted words. Please check it again.”

Just why Tencent chose language that reeks of censorship for its error message is anyone's guess, but the company has now apologised for doing so in the following statement sent to The Reg:

"A small number of WeChat international users were not able to send certain messages due to a technical glitch this Thursday. Immediate actions have been taken to rectify it. We apologise for any inconvenience it has caused to our users. We will continue to improve the product features and technological support to provide better user experience."

One possible explanation for the strongly-worded message is that the keyword blocking filter was accidentally turned on by Tencent for users outside of China.

If the web firm is to successfully expand internationally and avoid bad publicity like this in future, perhaps some servers outside the Great Firewall are in order. ®

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