Tencent is a success story bedevilled by the splinternet

Earlier this year it suddenly became clear what a subversive force WeChat could become. It happened on April 22nd, when Shanghai was in lockdown. A black-and-white video swiftly went viral among the 1bn-plus Chinese users of the social-media platform owned by Tencent, China’s biggest internet firm. For six minutes, as a camera panned over Shanghai’s skyline, it carried an audio montage of babies crying after being separated from their quarantined parents, residents complaining of hunger, apartment dwellers banging bins, a mother desperately seeking medicine for her child. “The virus is not killing people, starvation is,” a person cries out. It was a haunting, dystopian scene.

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As Lulu Yilun Chen recounts in her book, “Influence Empire: The Story of Tencent and China’s Tech Ambition”, China’s web…

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This article was written by and originally published on www.economist.com