Tencent cleans up pageview scammers on Wechat

WeChat, the most popular social networking app in China, on Wednesday started to crack down on companies and individuals faking their pageview numbers on the app. After being forced to reveal the truth, some former celebrity information providers were forced to show pageview figures down to one tenth of their previously stated number.

Tencent’s WeChat has 806 million monthly active users, according to its Q2 2016 report. Chinese people on average spend 22.63 minutes per day reading WeChat, according to a report published in April by the China Academy of Press and Publication.

WeChat has a category of official accounts called Subscription Accounts, which provide information to their subscribers.

For information providers and content producers in China, WeChat Subscription Accounts is their battlefield, where they aim to reach “100,000+” pageviews for an article. In pursuit of this goal, a handful of Subscription Accounts have been providing stories that are especially eye-catching.

But some other Subscription Accounts, whose main function is marketing and advertising, apparently have been simply buying pageviews, so that their clients will pay higher advertising fees.

Some Subscription Accounts – which normally publish articles on a daily basis – did not post any articles on Wednesday, directly after the crackdown.

A Subscription Account just said “Good Night” on Wednesday, Screenshot from WeChat.
A Subscription Account just said “Good Night” on Wednesday, Screenshot from WeChat.

There is effectively an industry of fake pageviews. One provider of fake pageviews saw its monthly sales of WeChat pageviews reach RMB 60,000 (USD 8,996) on Taobao, Alibaba’s online shopping platform.

It’s an industry that also exists on WeChat. As of Friday, there are about 20 official accounts providing fake pageview services on WeChat.

Su Xuan, the founder of mobile data tracking startup Targetsocial, said WeChat changed the port that collects viewing data, and therefore many articles failed to simulate readers and successfully fool WeChat’s systems.

So far, the price is about RMB 15 (two US dollars) for every 1,000 pageviews, Tencent Tech reported.

Fake pageviews bring profits to advertising clients and some Subscription Accounts. The problem will not be solved “once and for all” WeChat announced.

WeChat declared that it “does not welcome fake prosperity”and that it will “continue to tackle fake pageviews with technical methods, and ensure the WeChat platform is true, fair and just”.

(Top photo from Baidu Images)

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