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Mobile Application Surveillance: WeChat


In the field of surveillance, much of the research has been concerned with the potential impact of this level and type of scrutiny on society and businessesHowever, in this dissertationthe paper will approach the research from the customers’perspective to analyse the matter of monitoring in mobile applications, and, for this purpose, WeChat was chosen as the case study companyInterviewing WeChat’s customers was adopted as the search method to investigate how users felt when they discovered they were under observation from WeChat’s mobile application, and the effects on WeChat users from this surveillance. The results of the research indicate that the acceptance of mobile application surveillance from users is still relatively high as they considered the tangible benefits of the application outweighed any possible problems or issuesHowever, the research also revealed that this surveillance had psychological effects on the users. Moreover, the collection of personal information in this manner caused issues of trust and ethics, and also concerns regarding the targeted marketing of users based on this surveillance process.



In today’s world, with the rise and development of information technology, society has entered a new era. A lot of social actions and systems are based on information and databases, and people’s daily activities have become increasingly inseparable and integrated with the emergence of new technology and equipment. Also, technology has stimulated the speed and scope of information flow, and this has led to the development of an advanced, modern information society; as the carrier equipment for this increased information, various media devices came into the marketplace, with the smartphone recognized as the most prevalent model, due mainly to its wide range of users.

Smartphones can be regarded as having similar functions to the personal computer, with a separate operating system, an independent operating space that users can install their own applications ( including games, navigation and other third-party services) and through the use of mobile communication networks to achieve wireless network access. Many companies have developed different types of mobile application, and many value-added services have been launched including stocks, news, weather, traffic, music and video downloads. Thus, the functionality of smartphones has become ever more diverse, more user-friendly, and, for the developers of the application, more publicity and therefore higher profits.

With the combination of smartphones and mobile applications resulting in new experiences and additional convenience for the customer, the mobile application market has become more competitive. Therefore, in addition to functionality, an accurate understanding and interpretation of users’ information, and meeting the needs of users becomes another important consideration for companies. In fact, this process of collection and analysis of information from surveillance has been identified as a new trend in marketing (Lyon, 2003).

The existence and purpose of surveillance technology in many mobile applications is, of course,  to obtain users’ information. Partly because of functional needs ( including maps and weather services) companies need to know the users’ geographical location to give correct and appropriate information. Furthermore, due to the competitiveness of the market, the collection of this information can bring additional benefits to their own companies. However, it should be noted that this kind of surveillance is effectively passive for the users; their daily activities, the places they frequently visit, and even social relationships and meetings are collected by the surveillance system to form a database of personal information. This information is private to the users, but for the businesses, it can be an important revenue resource.


1.1 Aims and objectives

Through the use surveillance in mobile applications by companies, related businesses have also increased profits from the collection of the users’ information. However, in this series of processes, what would be the response from the users to these facts? What kind of ideas and opinions do they form when they are knowingly under surveillance? Alternatively, have the users even realised that their data had been shared by third parties in the first place? The attitude of users towards the surveillance is one of the main research purposes of this study; the impact on the users from the surveillance of mobile applications is another research objective. Has the surveillance changed some of their habits? Are there any changes in the psychological level of the users? Did they take any actions once they discovered the surveillance?

Therefore, the research questions can be summarised as the collation of the following facts and opinions:

  • How do the mobile application users feel when they are in the surveillance by related business?
  • What are the impacts of surveillance on mobile application users?

The reason for choosing WeChat as the research company is that it is one of the most widely used instant messaging applications in China. For example, as of the second quarter of 2016, WeChat had covered more than 94% of China’s smartphones, monthly active users reached 806 million, users covered more than 200 countries, and more than 20 languages are provided. As a communication application, it contains a lot of powerful functions, and the user coverage is particularly high. It can be representative of this area. In addition to the high utilisation rate, surveillance had already existed in WeChat, a fact that was extensively reported by online new (Radio Free Asia, 2012; Vision Times, 2015) Therefore, WeChat users are under surveillance, their conditions in line the needs of the research materials of this study.

The research objectives of this paper are to fill the gap of the user’s perception towards the business behaviour in the area of mobile application related to surveillance, and the impacts from the subjective point of view from the users. The surveillance in a mobile application is not only restricted to one function but includes all the services in the system. In previous research, the focus of the study was mainly in the surveillance process, and the kind of benefits the business could attain. However, which commercial behaviour was considered more effective has largely been neglected. Therefore, in this study, the surveillance issue from the users perspective is considered.

1.2 Format of the chapters

The dissertation is divided into four main chapters, with the first chapter being the Introduction, whilst  chapter 2 considers the literature review. The key features of the review are surveillance trends,  consumer and mobile surveillance, and definitional matters emanating from previous research. Opinions from different points of view are thus examined, thus forming a relatively general lexicology and understanding of ‘surveillance’. The second sub-chapter details the features of the surveillance society: The reasons for the formation of the surveillance society; the expansion of the scope of surveillance; and, also, the use of searchable data in marketing. Because the research questions are related to the user’s opinion, other research on the behaviour and impacts of consumer marketing, as well as consumer awareness were analysed. The last sub-chapter concerns mobile technologies, the existence of surveillance in mobile applications, and also the features of mobile social media. In the end of chapter 2, privacy ethics and data protection problems are discussed. The structure of the literature review is necessarily restricted to the specific matter of mobile applications, and therefore lays down a good framework for future research and discussions.

Chapter 3 is concerned with the methodology employed in this research. To answer the research questions, fifteen people were interviewed as this method can achieve higher quality and more detailed answers, but it has a limitation in the number of the research participants that can be employed. Therefore, the advantages and disadvantages of the research method are outlined, and the reasons explained why this is considered the most suitable method to achieve the results sought. The sample group of the participants is listed in a table, which highlights the differences between the participants  (for example, age, occupation and location). Furthermore, the way to find the participants, as well as how the interview environments are set and the contact tools we have used during the interviews. In the search for the participants, we have considered the issue of authorization. In the last part, we explain that all the participants in the table, including their names, occupations, and workplaces and universities, were granted through their consent.

Finally, chapter 4 summarises the findings of the research. There are four findings according to the same responses of the participants for the first research question—What are the feelings of the respondents to the surveillance, namely, are they:

1) Acceptance of advertising, resistance to data broker

2) Benefits greater than problems

3) Imbalance between users and companies

4) Do not care about surveillance.

The detailed analysis, therefore, combines the underlying theory and the discourse excerpts from the participants, and therefore directly demonstrates the authenticity of the content and the conditioning. For the second research question (the impact on the mobile application users of the surveillance) the findings are related to matters of trust and ethics, and also the proving of identity. These effects are both from the users’ point views, which they regard those as the situation that the surveillance has brought to them.

A complete interview transcript is included in the appendix, and the transcript can be regarded as a reference guide for the analysis, and shows the entire interview process, reflecting the means of collecting materials for the study.


The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines surveillance as close observation, supervision and invigilation towards each (Lyon, 2003). Indeed, the object of the surveillance is each of us, but more often we are grouped by different standards and different needs, and these groups are treated as specific groups of people to be monitored. What kind of group will be under surveillance?—The a person who is not believed to be able to work or act outside surveillance. (Lyon, 2003) Surveillance does exist in the work environment, but now the scope and use of surveillance coverage compared with the previous era should be more extensive.

In Stalples’s view (1997, cited in Lyon 2003) suggested the surveillance as the “watchful gaze”. Surveillance can also be interpreted as the behaviour that closely follows a person. This behaviour is usually of a vigilant nature. Stalple believes that (1997, cited in Lyon 2003) these surveillance exists in the places of daily life activities, such as the workplace, schools and homes, which known as the “local knowledge-gathering activities.” The surveillance occurred of these places have the majority of direct monitoring. As Stalples’s idea “watchful gaze”, such surveillance on behalf of a person pay attention to more than one person or a few people to observe their behaviour. The application of electronic equipment depends on the situation of the environment. Workplaces and schools can use electronics to monitor simultaneous surveillance of a group of people. The way of surveillance includes the most basic visual observation; the type of information recorded. The information includes the activities of the people and the time taken for the activity. (Lyon, 2003)

In the days of Stalples’s study, the forms of surveillance compared with nowadays were relatively simple. At present, the sites are not limited to workplace and schools, and more surveillance occurred in places that are not entities—the network. The nature of the surveillance has been changed as well, not entirely vigilant. There has the role of security, but also the purpose for the collection of information. As Lyon suggested that “surveillance is the collection and processing of personal data.” (Lyon, 2003) The data includes the detailed information of the individuals’ everyday life. For these acquired data, whether or not it is possible to identify, the purpose that influence and manage the data has been obtained. (Lyon, 2003)

The field of surveillance research has expanded in the past two decades. On the one hand, due to the rapid development of governance and new technologies(Lyon, 2011), it has brought new areas into play, at the same time along with the problems that need to be investigated and discussed; On the other hand, it comes from the new explanation of the theory. (Lyon, 2011) Researchers are constantly looking for gaps to fill in with previous reports, articles and books to do further research. Thus the field of surveillance grows, and the content is more and more extensive.

2.1 The Surveillance Society

As a consumer, a user, a citizen, when we carry out our daily activities, the actions that left in the places we passed and the space we entertained are recorded as detailed information for surveillance. That information may include the name, age, address, job and living preferences. The thing is despite the monitoring lens that can be seen in the public places; the digital devices generate some other channels that are not ‘entities’, the information is retrieved through the ways that we may not recognise. (Ball, 2001)For example the registration form of the websites for online shopping or tool sites, when the user’s type in the details then that information are saved to the system. The shopping records in the account reflect the preference and interests of the users; these records are also considered useful information to accomplish the factors of the personal file in the surveillance system. In many cases, the users do not think much of what other meanings behind the form when they are filling it. Thus the information is collected and saved in numbers and letters by the surveillance users, which are different types of organisations. As the basic element of surveillance, after the generation of the information, the next procedure is to organise the files of each individual. These steps form a process, which is taken places in society on a global scale at the current stage.

The circulation of information constitutes an information society, Lyon suggests that when an iinformation society can collect and process the personal information, as well as manage those who collect the data can be called as surveillance society. (Ball, 2001)The ‘ability’ represents the surveillance technology. Having surveillance technology is now a major feature of most countries. The reason for the global formation of this technology is, on the one hand, the fact that circulation of information is now international, and users not only use or search the domestic websites but the oversea ones as well.  Another reason is the population flow, in the establishment of files of each individual’s, activities in overseas places that also needs to be recorded, and requires the support of the local surveillance system. Therefore, many of the countries’ surveillance technology are gradually established in such a way as to form a surveillance society.

2.2 The modern city: the increasing use of surveillance 

The modern city is a collection of various scientific research institutions, and various types of talent are the research and development of new technologies, trial production of new products, the main base. (Lyon, 2013). The development of modern technology and market economy makes the information source of the city, the rapid expansion of information, the development, collection, processing, storage and transmission of information about all kinds of information. Industrialisation has begun to become a reality, the city as a function of the information centre has gradually emerged. The main life and production methods in the city are based on the support of informatics and equipment, with the development of both modern and global information technology form into a modern city model.

The formation of the modern city provides the basis for the operation of the current surveillance, or it can also be said that the surveillance brings development to the modern city as well, the two concepts have a relationship between each other. (Lyon, 2013). A very important part of the surveillance is the collection and analysis of information. The completion of these steps benefits from the technologies and information source of the modern city (Obar, 2015). With the help of the technology, the surveillance has gradually become a model in the society (Lyon, 2013).

Though in the traditional monitoring process, there were several artificial ways to collect some information. (Ball, 2001) However, it is time-consuming and cannot handle with the huge amount of information today. It will be heavy workload if just relying on manual collection. In addition to the necessity of information resources, the technology used to analyse and the store is also a necessary part of the surveillance society. If there is no recovery analysis of a large amount of data generated, at most it can only be called unilateral information dissemination, media equipment as an intermediary. Without the help of modern devices, the set of the itinerary’s is hard to implement.

It is the surveillance society that has an active and continuous collection of personal information and analyses what is collected. Electronic technology provides convenience, thereby increasing the desire of different organisations for access to this information. Organisations that use information technology for surveillance can continue to receive detailed information about the daily life of the person concerned. This information can not only be completely preserved; it is easy to retrieve and compare records as well (Lyon, 2013).

One of the key surveillance trends is the contemporary surveillance is exponentially growing and continues to expand (Lyon, 2014). From the specific places such as prison, a national institution, workplace and school, to shopping mall, community park, those ordinary living places (Lyon, 2003. )From suspicious groups that may threaten the society, to each individual of the city. The scope of surveillance is constantly expanding and gradually penetrating into every detail of every person in everyday life (Lyon, 2013).

This trend is reflected in the ordinary daily life is becoming more and more transparent to the large organisations. From the previous analysis, it can also reflect the existence of this trend. The formation of society needs to penetrate into every corner so that the surveillance system and its inside information will become more and more complete. However, when the scope of surveillance is growing, organisations engaged in surveillance are becoming increasingly invisible for those who acquire and use the information. Indeed, when the trend expands, the surveillance society is also globalised at the same time, as citizens they do not know what exactly is the organisation in the implementation of surveillance. The surveillance from large organisations monitor the citizens, but only a small amount of them have shown their identity to the public, most of them are hidden and invisible (Lyon, 2014).

Also, another main trend of surveillance is to use searchable databases to process personal data for a variety of purposes (Lyon, 2003). Among them, the most common one is to use surveillance to do marketing. The database that is easy to search is important for organisations that need to do marketing, and they can make a grouping and screening of consumers in a short period to make further advertising (Lyon, 2003). In the screening process, they can also filter the valueless consumers for the organisations. For some commercial organisations, it is better to analyse and predict the behaviour and preferences of customers or users. Through the obtained personal information they may use for many income purposes, for the development of their own as well as keep abreast of social trends. There are quite a lot of competition in various commercial organisations, thus they a real competing to use more ways to attract more consumers. Alternatively, a large organisation with a lot of different branches of the product, they process the data of consumers and then provide their own product information to promote.

2.3 Care and control

The surveillance system develops the entire industrialised social order by connecting some basic facilities. Such as via mobile phones, e-mail, barcode, or membership card for some commercial companies (Ball, 2001). The interaction of the users with these facilities, which left personal information, constitutes an important part of the surveillance system. Nowadays, bureaucratic organisations use surveillance to try to track the complex information of the population and the group and analyse the possible security problems from this collected personal information (Lyon, 2013).

In fact, since the beginning of the twenty-first century, the 911 terrorist attacks and digital communications, commercial and artificial intelligence technology have made rapid progress, and we, as a global society, have applied surveillance technology to almost every aspect of contemporary life—military, medical, business, entertainment, national security (Morrison, 2015).

The existence of surveillance society tends to leave an invisible, controlled impression. However, the role of surveillance is not always like the case, there is the control side, but also it aims to care about the society and citizens.

Close surveillance to the society brings protection to the citizens. The importance of surveillance system for the risk of theft, fraud, kidnapping, and accidents is unquestionable, and it guarantees our safety to a certain extent (Ball, 2001). The surveillance system preserves the personal information of these suspicious people and continues to focus on their movements by analysing the data to speculate that they will not be harmful to the society. In the process of dealing with the occurrence of harmful events, the surveillance lens that installed in the public places can also provide some detailed information to help to investigate the incident. In the workplace, while monitoring the role of each employee’s work, in another point view, the surveillance also ensures that the working environment prevents unfair treatment or behavioural conflicts.

On the other side, the problem is the power imbalance between the person who collects information and those who do not (Andrejevic, 2003; Schiller, 1996; Webster and Robbins, 1989). For most of the people, more critically, as a constitutional democratic citizenship status subject to more and more power and discipline to a large extent. The organisation of information is not limited to the increasing freedom, but also contradictory. As the government can continue to track citizens, complex management systems like health and welfare become more likely to make people have more freedom.

Moreover, the individual becomes more and more likely to be cut, disciplined and monitoring—control with the spread of information technology, the process is self-sustaining: they are constantly aware of the concern that citizens take the form of self-discipline (Best, 2010). The surveillance targets are expanding, moving from the simple original places to relevant persons. (Best, 2010). Whenever the person mentioned any information about the original target, they are in the supervisory network.

In this society of intense surveillance and contradictions, in particular, an important application of technology in recent years, regulation has emerged: Surveillance technology becomes more widespread in the public space. The consumer market becomes more accessible to the technology. An increasing number of artists and activities adapted to CCTV cameras or GPS tracking system in their daily life. Medical surveillance equipment, drones and other commercially available surveillance technologies, which has been converted into a tool representative of the social and political structure of contemporary surveillance to be rethought and recast (Morrison, 2015).

2.4 Marketing

The use of surveillance in marketing now as a mainstream trend, it also brings some degrees of change to the consumers’ environment. Today, the contemporary marketing approach is no longer purposeless propaganda, but with the collection of data collected by surveillance to carry out target promotion (Ball, 2016). By collecting, processing and handling large amounts of information involving consumer behaviours, identify specific consumer groups or individual interests, spending habits, consumption trends and consumer demand, and then infer the next step of the corresponding consumer groups or individuals (Ball, 2016). Moreover, as a basis for the identification of the consumer groups to the specific content of targeted marketing, this is compared with the traditional characteristics of consumer marketing. These do not distinguish between the large-scale objects, significant savings in marketing costs as well as improve marketing effectiveness, so as to bring more business profits.

Business consumption information comes from various channels in the market. For example, whenever we use credit cards as consumers, companies can collect business consumption information during the credit card settlement process: record the time, location, interest of goods or services, the price level and the ability to pay. When we apply for a credit card or apply for a driving license, fill in the goods warranty and the other forms that need to fill out, our personal information is recorded into the corresponding business database. In addition to self-collection of business-related information, enterprises can even buy such information from other companies or institutions for their own use (Ball, 2016).

Social networking is the latest information source platform (Ball, 2016). The consumers are willing to publish their own information on this platform to get the results for their own satisfaction. (many pans or praise.) Because the purpose of the development of the social network is to form an online community, therefore the whole atmosphere also encourages the consumers to share their name, habits, and photo, etc. The use of social media makes a lot of consumer information public on the network (Ball, 2016).

This data from a variety of channels are combined and processed by information processing techniques to derive bushiness decisions for targeted marketing to specific consumer groups or individuals (Ball, 2016). For example, when a bank explores one of the business data and finds that a bank account holder suddenly asks for a two-person joint account and confirms that the consumer is the first time to apply for a joint account, the bank will infer that the user many be married.This user will then be targeted in the future purchase of housing, to pay their children’s tuition and other long-term investment business. The bank may even sell the information to franchise wedding goods and services companies.

2.6 Consumer awareness of surveillance

When surveillance of the consumer information as a process of marketing gradually become a common phenomenon, the consumers start to concern the security issues of their personal information, compared with before, the consumer awareness has been increased, especially when they know that the government and private corporations have their personal data. The 2016 CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey on Internet Security and Trust shows that 85% of the total amount of 24,142 global users want to improve the rules of the permission of the access from the government and businesses to user their personal data. Also, the survey also tells that only 47% of the citizens still believe that they are not monitored (Dwindles, 2017).

At present, the surveillance system has become central to the consumer and the markets. The data of individuals and group behaviours, activities are collected and then send to the business organisations through the process of technological analysis. After the businesses have obtained the analysis of this information, they match with the consumers’ database according to the details inside and then send the targeted advertising back to the consumer (Ball, 2016). Business organisations predict the next proper action of the consumers according to their previous data, to gain greater profits by promoting specific advertising to the target consumers.

Therefore, in the future, consumer data may become an important resource, business organisation and the state security are competing to get information for their own purposes (Ball, 2016). From this it also reflects that the surveillance of consumer will only increase without any reduction, the surveillance has become one part of modern life. The existence of surveillance has been influential and managing of the people. All surveillance , including consumer surveillance, is related to the promulgation of power and close governance.

2.6 Mobile social media

Five years ago, the distinction between a mobile device and online social media was clear: one was mainly responsible for making calls and sending and reaching text messages, the other is about information acquisition and communication. However, now the boundaries between the two become more and more blurred, because new technologies put them together, forming a new research field, which is called mobile social media (Humphreys, 2013 ).

Mobile social media can be interpreted as the installed software, application or service on mobile devices to contact with others, as well as collect and share information. Nowadays, more social media tools are integrated into all aspects of media communication, and mobile communication technology is gradually improving. From mobile phones to smartphones, desktop computers to laptops, including mobile tablets such as iPad, the mobility continues to be enhanced. Some mobile social media is designed based on the characteristics of these devices and usually will emphasise the mobility, such as to provide users with real-time location-based services (Humphreys, 2013).

Many online social networking sites have launched their own mobile applications, so that users can share their information at anytime, anywhere, rather than back to a fixed location to share the content that has been happened a period. There is also part of the applications that originally designed for the instant messaging purpose of the smartphone, within the mobile social media trend, also developed their online community.

Graver (1991) and Norman (2002) suggested the ‘Affordance’ theory as one of the reasons why mobile social media popular because it is welcomed by consumers for the convenience provided. Not only the application of social aspects, additionally, the functions such as video/audio player, finance management, consumption, etc. are settled in the mobile applications as well. With one device, users can easily operate a variety of functions and can receive the latest information. So, more and more people are using mobile devices to access social media and mobile applications.


2.7 Existing surveillance in mobile applications

When a user installs an application on a mobile device, he or she will be asked if it is allowed to know the location or the other personal information. However, even the users refuse, they can not prevent the leakage of personal information. One of the most typical examples is the Google Maps for the iPhone. Obviously, as a map application, to help the user navigate, it needs the location information. However, the installed applications may bring security risks. In fact, when you allow others to locate you, the third party advertisers can get almost all of your personal information. It can be seen, with the popularity of smartphones, location-based mobile applications have become a major function.

In previous years, when the main function of the mobile phone is to call and text, the location information can be found through the operator’s signal connection. However, this approach is not universal; the general user does not have the power to use location-based services. Until about five years ago, with the popularity of the smartphones, it can use three measurement technology, which are GPS, Wifi and triangulation of waves to access the location information conveniently and accurately, as well as run location-based mobile applications (de Souza e Silva, 2013).

Therefore, when most of the mobile applications are related to location information, location-based surveillance is the most prominent concern. Among them, there are two main forms. The first one is from the government and corporations’ well-organized monitoring, as well as from peers and other users with surveillane (de Souza e Silve and Frith 2010). The other is the internal surveillance of mobile applications, not only the users’ location information they are monitoring, as well as the searched content and interested services of the users.

2.8 Privacy, ethics and data protection

However, most of the individuals neither do now know nor control their personal information that has been monitored, so that their rights can not be used effectively. (European Commission, 2012) In the discussion of pricey and data protection, it is necessary to mention the data broker. The data broker can also be called as information aggregators (Couts, 2012; Mitchell, 2012; Wayne, 2012) .

The process of their job is first to collect information from the users, then organise the data into compilations and sell this information to another third party. The method they use to collect data is extensive and controversial. The collection not only gets from publicly available information, such as name, contact number, place of residence, school or workplace, but also the purchase history, credit card bills, registration information on the website, purchase a large amount of data from government, or maybe private entities. The data broker collects the users’ specific information to be analysed, to infer their actions, and then sell the data to gain profit and share it with clients in other industries, some of which may be very private. All of these processes are carried out in the dark; the users do not know such a thing happened (FTC, 2014: vii).

For the users, they need to deal with both the organisations they have interacted with and the hidden data broker, which their personal files are held and management by them. In the case of the surveillance, the users have always been in a passive state. One of the important reasons is that The Data Protection Directive of 1995 did not attribute data protection to a human right (Van der Sloot, 2014). The original rules in The Data Protection Directive and related rules ‘could best be regarded as principles of good governance’, they considered that the producer of the data did not relate to a human right relationship, but they rather focus on the procedural obligation of controllers. Compared to the individuals’ privacy, personal data, it is more important for the manage organisations to have more efficient control over the users and more, specific knowledge of the people.


In the research method, interviews were utilized to answer tthe research questions. Interviews, as a kind of qualitative research method in the process of collection and analysis of the data, has characteristics of more emphasis on the quality of discourse than quantification. (Bryman 2008a:366) It has a tendency to adapt flexibility and data-driven in the research design and emphasis on the subjectivity using relatively unstructured data. The form of the qualitative method is a detailed research of a few cases, and it uses a linguistic analysis rather than statistics. Interviews are mainly focused on the investigation of the participants’ experience and perspective, by encouraging them to talk about the related issues in their way to receive the actual results. To avoid the impact of the words by the interviewer on the reaction of the participants, interviews usually form in a relatively unstructured model to reduce this situation (Hammersley, 2013).

Referring to previous studies, the research method of interview enables us to have a more clearly and directly understanding of the real thoughts from the participants. With my research question is related to the participants’ perspective to mobile application surveillance. Therefore I need the subjective ideas from the users; their answers are important to my findings. In the design of the interview, a semi-structured form is used, I have prepared several questions according to the theoretical points from the literature review and also the aspects I aim to investigate. The questions in the interview are questioned in a relatively relaxing and casual way since most of the participants do not understand some of the professional terms in the field of study, which will affect the quality of the answers, and this helps to reduce their stress and panic. During the follow-up process after the interview, the conversations with the participants make it easier for me to find a causal relationship, the reason for the participants would have this kind of answer is base on one of the aspects of the mobile application surveillance.

In general, from the quality of the answers to the research questions; the flexibility and authenticity of the data collection process; the integrity of the answers in the process of analysis, the interview is the most appropriate research method for this study.


3.1 Interview procedure

In the search for participants, friends and their parents were asked to complete the interview. The intention behind the research was explained to them, and after which they were willing to help in the research. Also, some of the people contacted do not have any direct personal relationships with the research (including the travel agency that was contacted previously and some mobile business owners). However, none of this latter group elected to assist in the research,

Of these participants, most of them are around the same age as me, and they are university students. However, we have chosen different representatives as much as I can in the schools and the countries, they are in the UK, but also France, Shanghai China and the United States. In addition to student friends, I invited my cousin who has just started his career for one year, as well as two of my friends’ mother, they are both successful professional women in their workplaces, as my research participants.

The participants’ details and characteristics are listed in the following table.

Name Occupation Age School/Workplace
Fan Zhang Student 23 Université du Maine /Acoustic Year 2
Jiayun Su Student 21 Université du Maine /Science of Economic Year 3
Nianlu Zhang Student 22 Université du Maine /Acoustic Year3
Bowen Gu Student 23 Université du Maine /Science of Economic Year 3
Yiyun Ding Student 20 East China University of Political /Science and Law Year 3
Jia Wang Student 24 Michigan State University/ Master Year 1
Yifan Hu Student 20 New York University Shanghai /Interactive Media Arts Year 3
Yu Wei Student 22 University of the Arts London /Fashion Management Year 2
Jianing Li Student 22 Brunel University /Accounting and Finance Year 3
Jie Yu Student 21 Durham University /Accounting and Finance Year 3
Yichun Gao Student 20 Durham University /Accounting and Finance Year 3
Yuxuan Shen Software Engineer 27 O-Net Technologies
Qun Lin Financial Director 44 Tectura Consulting (Shanghai) Co. Ltd.
Junhua Wang Human Resource Manager 49 Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (Shanghai)

The interview process is through face-to-face communication; another way is through the voice call function in WeChat. Due to the difference in location and time zone, some interviews are affected by the limits. (As long as the users allow the permission on the mobile devices, they can also access their account on their iPad; most participants do not have Skype account, so I did interview through WeChat) In the case of the interviews went through WeChat, I used voice call on the iPad to get in touch with the participants, and then use the voice memo in iPhone to record the conversations. After completing all the recordings, I sent the voice memos on my phone to a laptop for backup. Moreover, then by repeatedly listening to the recording, I wrote down the answers from the participants. Because in the interviews, the participants and I communicated in Chinese, so at the same time I also translated the conversations into English. There is a full transcript of the interview in the appendix.

Before each interview, a brief introduction was made to the participants about the purpose of this interview, as well as the background and meaning of my research topic. At the time of interviewing, the questions that prepared in advance were taken as a general framework, and the cooperation is sometimes changed according to the differences of the answers from each participant. Alternatively, when the participants did not know how to answer the questions or not quite understood, I have added instructions on the topic and let them have a better idea. The average length of the recording is about 20 minutes, the content of each interview is different in levels. Some interviewers may not have a lot of understanding and thoughts on the topic, so their answer is vaguer. In contrast, some of the participants answered with quite a few high-quality words; logic is also well-organized, the interview time is relatively long, which is more than 30 minutes.

The research questions and the pre-prepared interview framework are as follows:

Research Question:

  1. How do the mobile application users feel when they are in the surveillance by related business?
  1. What are the impacts of surveillance on mobile application users?

Interview Framework:

  1. In what cases you will use WeChat?
  1. What functions do you most often use in WeChat?
  2. What are the benefits of these functions that bring you in daily life?
  3. In your daily life when you use WeChat, do you think your information is secured?
  4. Do you mind your information are collected and used in advertising or sell to other third-parties?


3.2 Participants’ Agreement

In this study, all of the personal information of the participants including name, age, occupation, schools and workplace, and also the majority of the course, have been agreed by the participants to be public and as a research resource that contributes to the analysis and discussion. Also, the recording of the interviews was also agreed in advance to obtain the consent of the participants. All 15 participants are adults, so there are no problems related to the protection of minors.

3.3 Evaluation

In the use of interviews as a research method there are advantages and limitations, and  these are discussed as follows.


1) Accuracy

In the interview process to collection information throughout the process, I as the researcher has full participation, each of the details I am very clear and understand. Regarding communication, it is a kind of exchange, two-way communication process between the interviewee and the interviewer, form coherent conversations. Since the participants did not know what the specific questions were in advance, the overall situation was explained just before the interview. So the answers were the real reactions and ideas that there was no possibility of going to consult the information or touch someone else’s ideas. During the interview, when the participants do not understand the exact meaning of the questions, or only answered a few words, I can have the opportunity to explain more about the background of the topic, as guidance. Compared to the questionnaire of the survey, the information collected may be more perfunctory, or because of improper understanding, the answers are partial.

2) Flexibility

Another major advantage of the interview is reflected in its flexibility. In the case of my study, the flexibility of this research method is mainly reflected in the environmental settings and the adjustment of the interview questions.

Due to the geographical constraints, there were several interviews that could not be performed on a face-to-face basis. Therefore, in these cases the process was undertaken through a  one-to-one voice call with the participants. In the choice of places, the interviewees were in a relaxing, quiet environmen to avoid other factors would affect the process, the answers were also in a relatively high degree of integrity. In coordination with the available time of the interviewees was also more flexible, of course, most of the time I was based on their schedule to interview. There is a relatively large choice of space in the interview location and time, and when the participants have to delay the interview time, it is also convenient to make the adjustment.

Participants were not aware of the specific problem in advance, the interviewees usually cannot think for a long time when answering the question, so the answers are often automatic responses.In the pre-prepared framework, the questions were based on the general situation and subjective ideas to develop. In the interview process, each interviewer’s response is different, as well as the understanding level of “mobile surveillance, application surveillance”, therefore there was some adjustment or expansion according to the reply, which reflects the flexibility of the cooperation with the participants.


1) Time consuming

Interviews take a relatively longer time to complete, and part of them are ‘non-academic’, regarding communication time.During the pre-interview preparation process, I need to consider who are the suitable participants for doing an interview of this study. Then I need to contact each of them individually, explaining my situation and ask them as my research resources and discussing the appropriate interview time that fits both of us. Each interview takes about 40 minutes on average, from the beginning of the introduction to the conclusion.

In addition to the official interview content, it also includes a simple greeting because when a voice call has been connected with the participant, it is not very polite to start the interview immediately, so there were some daily greetings; these informal contents are not included in the recording. Therefore, the equation 15 participants x 40 minutes = 600 minutes,  which is representative of the time undertaken for the research. The interview has a soft side, which increases the arbitrariness of the process. However, in the after-interview process, ddifferent participants answered with a variety of responses; in fact,  there was no unified answer. In this way, the processing and analysis of the interview results was more complex. As the interview process is time-consuming, it was difficult to perform on a large scale, so the general interview sample was small.

2) Variances  in quality

The difference between the quality of each interview is relatively large. One of the reasons is that the participants do not have any understanding of the concept of ‘surveillance and the related issues, although I have introduced the background to then, they do not have a deep touch on the issue. There is also a situation where the participants did not attach great importance to the interview. Although they did not refuse the request, in the interview process their attitude is not particularly serious. It also occurred the situation of the participant postponed the interview when it should be the agreed time, to carry on recreational activities. Although the above situation takes only a small part, it has reduced the overall effective content.


After interviewing the fifteen interviewees, the information was recorded and translated into English. Then by comparing the differences between the interviewees, summed up the same view, finishing out the findings according to the research questions.

4.1 How do the mobile application users feel when they are in the surveillance by related business?

As Lyon suggests (Lyon, 2003), ‘the key trend of the surveillance is to use searchable databases to process personal data for a variety purposes, especially to do marketing.’ So does WeChat.

They use surveillance system to collect the user’s information to gain more profits from targeted adverts. This kind of marketing is mostly acceptable by the users. Fan Zhang, one of the participants comments that:

I have also seen the relevant reports before, such as Tencent company, it now appears that they are mainly to earn profits, in fact, they have the purpose to do big data analysis. In simple term, it is to collect customer information and then analyse the needs of customers. The reason why Tencent company is operating in a good way in recent years because they understand the needs of customers, they do screening based on consumer information, then do target marketing, improve the consumer experience. For now, the amounts of the adverts that WeChat contains is in the range of acceptance. In my view, the existing of this kind of surveillance is inevitable due to the development of the technology and society.

From the user’s perspective, WeChat’s mode of operation in the surveillance is reasonable. The response also reflects that the main step of surveillance is the collection and analysis of information (Lyon, 2013). WeChat launch targeted advertising to the users based on the relevant public numbers they visit, the messages and pictures send and share with their friends. For users, they feel that this targeted advertising brings much convenience to their life. Sometimes the adverts in WeChat are very much in line with the areas of interests that they are usually concerned with and may be new information or promotions that they did not know before. For example, as Qun Lin stated, she is usually more concerned about the cosmetics and fashion products. So in the publish of WeChat advertising, she often can see some cosmetic discount or new product introduction information. She feels that the advertising information has saved her much time. The usual work and life are quite busy. Thus WeChat advertising let her do not need to spend extra time with other tools to find information, besides the discounts also save money.

As Fan Zhang observed, excepting the usefulness of WeChat advertising, he can understand this kind of behaviour. Because WeChat is a free application, as long as the amount of the adverts is within a normal, acceptable range, it is a way can both benefit the users and the company. WeChat adverts not only understand the needs of users but also bring profits to the company. However, once involved in the data broker problem, the answers are not accepted from most of the users. According to Couts, Mitchell and Wayne’s theory, data broker means that the users’ information is collected and then sold to other third-party companies (Couts, 2012; Mitchell, 2012; Wayne, 2012).

Fan Zhang states that,  ‘The range I can accept is that I am using WeChat and it is collecting my information for the company’s marketing or for other developing products of the company, it is acceptable. But if they company second sale of my information, I cannot allow.’

Moreover, Qun Lin comments that: ‘This seems still not acceptable for me; this is personal privacy. Its business behaviour, I personally think is not very acceptable. I think WeChat can advertising based on my interests. If they sell my information, I cannot accept it.’

Users said that when they use WeChat, they know that their information is certainly included in its system. After all, all the actions in this application go through their transmission, so they acquiesce in their information are mastered by WeChat.  However, if the information is sold to other parties, users felt that their privacy has been violated, they are offended. For the data broker, they are unacceptable.

4.2 Benefits greater than problems

Jiayun Su commented that, ‘I downloaded WeChat since it just released. I think it is the most convenient one among all the similar kind of applications in previous times, and its functions have developed more and more comprehensive.’

Many users said they think WeChat is the most convenient for their use of mobile applications. About other applications, WeChat can be said that it is a new type in the era. It is not only an instant message application, in the process of continuously update, but its function also is more and more comprehensive, the areas involved are larger and larger. As Humphreys suggested, the boundaries between mobile devices and social media are more and more blurred, and thus formed a new field called ‘mobile social media’ (Humphreys, 2013). In this regard, WeChat is without exception, or it can be said, WeChat has used this point to form their special advantages. Many users have mentioned that one of the most frequently used functions in their WeChant is ‘Moments’. For example, Jiayun Su contended that, ‘I use WeChat Moments to express my daily life and share with my friends and others. There is a grouping function in Moments. Therefore I can shield the people whom I do not want to share, and then I can speak and upload contents freely in my WeChat.’

Moments refers to a social function in WeChat, users can publish text and pictures through Moments, at the same time the users can share articles or music in other applications to Moments. Users can make comments or praise on the new photos of friends; the users can only see the same friends comments or praise. Instead of other social media, WeChat provides a more private environment for sharing, more frequent social interactions between users. In addition to mobile social media, group chat and WeChat payment function are also included in the frequently used functions. Junhua Wang states that:

I use WeChat payment every day, because, in the company, a few people will go out to eat together at noon. Moreover, then one of us will pay the bill. First, the others will transfer money to the person via WeChat payment, in this way you can pay the money in time. In the past, when a person paid the money and then you have to pay back in cash if at the current time you do not have the exact amount of money, some of then may forget to pay after a period of time, and now we are very conscious.

Some users have suggested that there are some problems about surveillance. For example, the real-time location function. Refer to de Souza e Silve & Frith, location-based surveillance is the most prominent concern in the mobile applications. (de Souzs e Silve &Frith, 2010) From one hand, the information of location also brings convenience to the users, when they want to tell their friends where they are, they can simply send their location to others; On the other hand, there exist some security risks. It is easy to found the usual location and period of a user who has a regular life.

“Because WeChat has a function with real-time location, if some people have a bad purpose, he is likely to track you according to your location-based daily activities.” —Yiyun Ding

However, even with the existence of the problems, integrated all the functions in WeChat, the users feel the benefits is greater than problems in surveillance. The emergence of WeChat brings them different convenience from the previous time, and also it is in line with the modernization of today’s society and information technology. WeChat is now an irreplaceable mobile application for them, and the users say they will continue to use it.

“Because the convenience that WeChat bring us is greater than these problems, the convenience is a greater increase. As long as these is a network, WeChat is very convenient and save my money.” —Qun Lin

4.3 Imbalance between users and companies

When the users in the interview mentioned the problem of the mobile surveillance, some of them said that for most of the cases are accepted, but one part of the reason of acceptance is they have no way to deal with the surveillance.

“If they only collect my interest, I am not particularly minded. I think this is also a very good function of the network, But it is related to my privacy, I am not very willing to. However, I really have no way to deal with the surveillance.” —Jiayun Su

“However, nowadays our information is public, we cannot control what they deal with the information.” —Qun Lin

As Andrejevic, Schiller, and Webster and Robbins have suggested, the power between the person who collects the information and those who are being monitored is imbalanced. ( Andrejevic, 2003; Schiller, 1996; Webster and Robbins, 1989) The users feel that WeChat can sustain track all their information, used to launch advertising and other business practices. They can only choose to accept, and the aspects that they feel unacceptable with, they can only decide not to accept at the personal level, but, in fact, there is no way to avoid such surveillance.

“WeChat account ownership owned by Tencent, after the user completes the application for registration, only to obtain the right to use the WeChat account, and the right belongs to the initial application for registration. At the same time, the initial application for registration may not be donated, borrowed, rented, transferred or sold WeChat account or otherwise approve non-initial application registrant to use WeChat account. Non-initial application registrants shall not use the WeChat account by donation, inheritance, lease, transferee, or another means.”

This is one part of the ‘Tencent WeChat application license and service agreement’. Though it is not directly related to the surveillance, however, it can show the imbalance between the users and the company.

“For example, sometimes I will receive some advertising, crank calls, now there is a function that you can shield these phone numbers. I hope that WeChat can also launch this feature, give us—the users more choice. If I am not interested in the push adverts, I can have the option to close it.” —Qun Lin

There are users’ suggestions, which hope WeChat can provide more options to the users. In the position, give the same status to the users and the company, give the users a certain degree of autonomy to choose. In this way, it can promote users’ experience better in WeChat.

4.4 Do not care about surveillance

About the existing surveillance in a mobile application, there is a sense of the users do not matter, do not care about this phenomenon. However, this does not mean that they do not know the existence of surveillance. However, for some reasons, they do not have much feeling with a strong opinion. There are two kinds of answers existed in the interview.

The first one, which is the users said they do not care what information is obtained by surveillance, nor do they take any precautions. They just feel how to use the application is their own thing, the surveillance by WeChat is their right to run their system practice.

“The surveillance does not affect me much; I do not care what kind of information they will collect from me. I think my daily life is quite ordinary, nothing special. They can take whatever they want from me, that is the way of earning profits of them.” —Nianlu Zhang

Another type is, they do not know much details about the backgrounds of WeChat. They started to use WeChat because of the trend of other people, in workplaces or schools they have to download it to complete certain projects or group works. Though they know the existence of the surveillance, they do not pay much attention to it.

“For me, I do not quite understand some of the backgrounds of WeChat, so I feel the functions they provided are secured, I do not pay much attention to the surveillance.” —Junhua Wang

4.5 What are the impacts of surveillance on mobile application users?

Trust ethics: The surveillance in mobile applications gives a direct bearing on ‘trust ethics’ on the users. In today’s social trends, with user information to conduct marketing and business behaviour, and then formed the user information into an important resource (Ball, 2016). As the impact of the trend, more users have begun to care about the security issues of their personal information, compared with before, the overall consumer awareness has been improved (Dwindles, 2017).

“There is a process. At the beginning of the time when WeChat payment came out because it needs me to bind with my bank card, my instinctive reaction is that my card cannot have too much money in it and it is not usually used. With the time using this function, at present, I think it is safe, and there has not happened phenomenon of theft of money. No matter what, for me, I bound the amount of this card is still relatively small but enough to meet some of my daily consumption.” —Qun Lin

In the case of WeChat, most users are more concerned with security issues related to WeChat payment, as the payment service is connected with the bank card. As Qun Lin said, her first reaction is to doubt the safety of WeChat payment function, in the beginning, her trust on this service is only a little. The actions she takes to protect her privacy is to reduce the amount of money in the card, to minimise the loss in case of possible security problems. Although in the process of subsequent use, there is no problem of information leakage. However, many users still take some actions to protect their own information. The surveillance in mobile applications has formed the habit of suspicion from the users towards the functions, resulting in the distrust.

“I think Tencent is a good company; it brings a lot of convenience to our lives. I have a friend working in Tencent’s game department, and they do work with other departments. Therefore sometimes they need the users’ information from WeChat department, screening out the accounts that are linking with the mobile games, then mainly to advertise to these people.” —Yuxuan Shen

There is also a situation that users still believe that WeChat and its development company-Tencent. They believe that the surveillance of mobile application is more for the benefit of users, and also underhand the need of information sharing of the company.


4.6 Proof of identity

In the process of the surveillance system, the users’ information and behaviour are collected at first, and then through technical analysis, the targeted adverts are sent back to the users. (Ball, 2016) Through this process, the ‘targeted user’ become a kind of identity affirmation. Some users want to be in the effective customer group that is selected by the surveillance system. Some advertising brands in the promotion are relatively more luxury than others in the relevant fields. Thus, it reflects that the main consumer group the brands are looking for is the person with relatively high spending power. When the users receive this kind of adverts in WeChat, it indirectly indicates that their level of consumption is included in the “competent” range.

“In WeChat Moments now often appears adverts, I think it is the result of information collection. Once I was in school, it gave me the recommendation of decoration company in Songjiang (the school area). I think it is acceptable for these appropriate adverts. Some brands of the adverts are luxuries. I think some people have a mentality, they will praise the adverts, meaning that the advert has pushed to me, prove that my consumption level is relatively high, my identity is higher than others, and thus WeChat will position me as the target users. There is such a tendency.” —Yiyun Ding

There are a few cases appear in WeChat Moment. The response way performed as many users will give these adverts praise, to tell other users that their identities are recognised. For example, the adverts of Yves Saint Laurent lipstick, as the situation of Yiyun Ding said, many girls in her university has praised the promotion push (as they all have friends with each other, university forms a small social group)

The output of the surveillance in mobile applications is advertising; however, advertising has to give impacts not only on these girls but also many other users to have the need to prove their identity. In the psychological level, the vanity of human has been expanded due to the commercial behaviour.



In this study, the aim was to find out the opinions from the users’ perspective to the surveillance in mobile applications. WeChat was set as the research object for the case study, with the research method of interviews, the data a collected from 15 participants.

In the first chapter of the introduction, we mainly give an account of the background of this topic and the motivation to research about the field. Also, it clearly outlined the research purposes and aims and objectives of this study. There are two research questions: 1) How do the mobile application users feel when they are in the surveillance by related business? 2) What are the impacts of surveillance on mobile application users? After that, we wrote a brief overview of all the chapters in this study so that it will have a more intuitive concept when reading it.

The second chapter is the literature review section. The theories contained many important accomplishments from David Lyon in the field of surveillance. For example, he suggested that the main trend in surveillance today is used in marketing (Lyon,2003). The entire literature review covers four major sections: the definition of surveillance; surveillance society; consumer surveillance; and mobile technologies and surveillance. The scope of the literature review is gradually narrowing from one large area to specific in the surveillance in mobile applications; it has provided a good foundation for subsequent analysis and discussion.

The third chapter of the methodology has explained the research method referring to the academic resources, and state out the reason why the interview is the most appropriate way for this study. The interview settings are shown in the content, described how the interview is prepared and carried out, and the participants’ information is listed in a table. After the completion of the interviews, the benefits and the restricted aspects of this research method according to this study are discussed. In general, the interview as the research method, have collected the required information effectively.

Finally, the findings of this study are showed and discussed in the fourth chapter. Through the whole process of research, we found six answers to the research question. There are four different attitudes to commercial surveillance in mobile applications:

1) Acceptance of marketing for surveillance, and exclusion of data broker;

2) the convenience of WeChat allows them to accept some of these small problems;

3) do not care about the surveillance;

4) feel the imbalance of power between themselves as users and the company. The impact of mobile application surveillance on the users are mainly reflected in the users’ trust ethic in the application, as well as the use of marketing behaviour by surveillance has brought changes in psychological level to the users.

The limitation of the study is that the amount of the participants is relatively small, because the willingness to accept the interview is not a lot, and the conditions of the participants are more concentrated in the university students limit by the personal social relation problem. Also, because the length of the interviews is not long enough, the consideration of the questions in the interview should be more in-depth.

Overall, we have achieved the research purpose of the users’ perspective towards the surveillance in mobile applications. In a future study, more research about consumer surveillance in the marketing of consumer behaviour and psychological  analysis and research should be performed, referring to the literature from Mark Andrejevic and some of the other professional researchers.


Q: First, Let me introduce. My dissertation topic is the surveillance in the mobile application and the collection of the information. I chose WeChat as the case study, cause it has a large cover amount of users, not only in China but also in Asian countries, as well as some in Europe there are many users, it is an ideal study target. Therefore, I invite you to this interview to understand your view on this case. Shall we begin?

A: Sure.

Q: In what cases will you use WeChat?

A: Usually, I will use WeChat when I want to contact with my friends and family. First, because the functions provided by WeChat today is various and convenient, the most often used is chatting, especially with pictures and voice message, and also voice call. I think it has replaced the previous message services, compared with before, and some applications before such like Feixin, WeChat is much more convenient. Also, there is a group chat function; you can build a group with your WeChat friends. The previous mode when we use messages is one-to-one, now as I am in the group, if there is any notice, planning a trip or chatting, it is a very convenient way to contact with more people.

Q: What functions do you most often use in WeChat

A: That is, I have just said, text, picture messages and group chat are the functions that I most used, besides, with the payment services. But in my opinion, WeChat payment function may not be as strong as Alipay, although WeChat has come out in an early stage, the coverage is not as wide as Alipay.

Q: What are the benefits of theses functions that bring you in daily life?

A: I actually went back to the first question, compared to some the communication function in the previous era, WeChat is very convenient, such as pictures, I can send pictures in the group. I do not know it is my personal application problem or how, if we can start talking at the same time rather than a separate voice message in the group, I think it will be better. (Me: In fact, yes, there is a group of voice features, you can also choose to turn on just for video) I feel very good, I think this function is very good. And I think a more convenient point is, because I used to use Kindle to read, and now in WeChat public number I can choose some of my interests on the home page to follow. The contents I want to read, the knowledge I want to learn, like some healthy methods, I can find my favourite things in the subscriptions. But I am wondering when I subscribe to the public numbers, will they know that I subscribed, what kind of information will they know from us? (Me: I have learned from my friends who operates a WeChat public number, when you have followed them, they can see your nickname and avatar, but your other personal information, such as location, friend relationship, ID is not available to see, so they do not have method to add your friends.) That is okay, I believe that WeChat will protect our personal information in this regard.

Q: In addition to the public number, when you are in the process using other functions, such as WeChat payment, your chatting history with your friends, or the third-party businesses cooperate with WeChat, do you think your information is secured?

A: There is a process. At the beginning of the time when WeChat payment came out because it needs me to bind with my bank card, my instinctive reaction is that my card cannot have too much money in it and it is not usually used. With the time using this function, at present, I think it is safe, and there has not happened phenomenon of theft of money. No matter what, for me personally, I bound the amount of this card is still relatively small but enough to meet some of my daily consumption. In the third-party function, I have used takeaway. I would like to use the third-party function, but I will pick some big companies, such as Jingdong to use.

Q: The surveillance in WeChat, it is not aiming for the money in your bank card, but to collect your information. In the previous interview, one of the interviewees has said that he did not use his real name and picture since the beginning of the registration. However, WeChat will collect your address book; they will collect the information together in inter the next step of your behaviour. In spite that, there are phenomena that WeChat sells your information to other small companies as a product. What do you think?

A: This seems still not acceptable for me, this is personal privacy. Its business behaviour personally this is not very acceptable. I think WeChat can advertising based on my interests. If they sell my information, I can not accept it. However, nowadays our information is public, we can not control what they deal with the information. For me, I will be more cautious. For example, sometimes I will receive some advertising, crank calls, now there is a function that you can shield these phone numbers. I hope that WeChat can also launch this feature, give us—the users more choice. If I am not interested in the push adverts, I can have the option to close it. Of course, because now WeChat is free to use, if the WeChat developers, Tencent, to collect information for commercial behaviour, that is acceptable. Because the convenience that WeChat bring us is greater than these problems, the convenience is a greater increase. As long as these is a network, WeChat is very convenient and save my money.

Q: So, in your opinion, at present, WeChat is a not replaceable convenient application?

A: Yes, that is it.


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