With more than a billion monthly users, WeChat is one of the most popular social messaging apps in the world, especially in China.
No matter what country you’re in, WeChat is free to download — but signing up for an account isn’t so easy.
What is WeChat?
Launched in 2011 and owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent, WeChat has grown from a messaging app to become a unique social media hybrid. Services like Facebook are banned in China, so WeChat is the standard for business and communication.
WeChat supports the basics like voice chatting, picture messaging, and video calling. You can also share your real-time location with friends, play mini-games with each other, and post to a Story-like feature called “moments.”
It also has a feature called WeChat Out that lets you call international landlines at a low rate. This comes with a localization feature that will translate messages and content between 20 different languages.
However, it’s not nearly as secure as other messaging apps like Signal or Telegram. This is especially the case in China, where certain topics are actively censored and Tencent shares user data with the government. The app doesn’t have any sort of encryption, meaning that your messages can be potentially intercepted and read by third-party groups.