WeChat will stop scanning background photos after influencer exposure using Apple’s save activity
WeChat will stop scanning user photos in the background after a Chinese social media platform tech influencer Weibo exposed it using Apple’s new iOS 15 feature, the recording activity of the application.
(Photo: Photographic illustration by Drew Angerer / Getty Images)
In this photo illustration, the WeChat app is displayed in the App Store on an Apple iPhone on August 7, 2020 in Washington, DC. On Thursday evening, President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning any transactions between TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, and American citizens for reasons of national security. The president signed a separate executive decree banning transactions with Chinese tech company Tencent, which owns the WeChat app. Both orders are expected to take effect in 45 days.
The Weibo influencer revealed that WeChat scans photos of its users silently, but Apple’s Record App activity was able to detect the behavior, according to the latest report from South China morning post.
WeChat will stop scanning photos in the background
As such, the China-based super app WeChat has already pledged to stop constantly scanning its users’ photos in response to the online exposure.
Said messaging platform has evolved into a great app with extensive features including shopping, payments, and search engine, to name a few.
In addition, the Tencent-owned app is now “an integral part of everyday life in China,” according to a survey. ChinaDaily.com reported on January 20.
On average, WeChat has a whopping 1.2 billion daily active users around the world in 2020. In addition, in 2021, the Chinese application celebrated its 10th anniversary when it was launched in January 2011.
Now, the 10-year-old app with over a billion active users promises to kick its habit of scanning photos in its next update.
The WeChat representative said in a statement that the behavior “will be canceled in the new version.” So, WeChat users should expect the change to happen once an update starts rolling out.
WeChat further clarified that the app only scans photo galleries or camera rolls of users who have authorized the platform.
The Chinese super app explained that background scanning is intended to give its users a faster and more seamless experience of sending their photos.
Read also: WeChat users safe from U.S. Legislative Decree – Justice says no targets for personal and business transactions
Scanning WeChat background photos
The Weibo tech influencer who calls himself “Hacklous” further revealed that the Tencent-owned platform scans the photo galleries of its users’ devices in the background for a minute.
Additionally, the tech influencer added that WeChat repeats the behavior “every few hours.”
On top of that, Hacklous also exposed on Weibo that WeChat is not the only app that scans photos in the background.
For example, Taobao, Alibaba’s online shopping app, Taobao, and Tencent’s QQ messaging app are also said to have this behavior.
Taobao, QQ and Alibaba have yet to respond to the tech influencer reveal.
Scanning background photos: how to stop
It should be noted that WeChat’s photo scanning behavior will not end until its next update. As such, its current users are still exposed to it.
That said, the tech influencer noted that the only solution to prevent apps like WeChat from scanning your private photos is to turn off permission in system settings.
Associated article: China v WeChat: Beijing prosecutors sue Tencent after “youth mode” allegedly violates child safety laws
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Written by Teejay Boris
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