Content Thieves Beware… WeChat Does Not Mess Around

Matthew Brennan Uncategorized

Ever wonder what 原创logo at the top of a WeChat post means? (see pic below)

Literally translating to “original” the icon indicates that the post you are reading is Tencent-guaranteed original and unique content. Read on for an understanding of why this is important and how it all works.

Why does this matter?
In a modern digital age where story aggregation runs supreme, this service helps ensure that the content you are reading originated from the publisher. It’s a very useful trademark protection feature that came to the WeChat world in a time when accounts could re-post each other’s articles without giving appropriate credit, and with no fear of legal repercussions. And boy, were they running with it! You can read more about those pesky content thieves in our previous article here.

All’s fair while we remain in our WeChat bubble. But what will happen when we leave it?
This copyright protection system only works within WeChat, as Tencent’s primary goal is to prevent WeChat accounts from going amuck copying each other. They actually have a perverse incentive to encourage accounts to copy high quality content produced outside of WeChat and publish it within WeChat.

Here we have a classic example. The original article, taken from a website, seen here on the left. On the right we have the copied version of the article in a non affliated WeChat account.


Plagarism of memes doesn’t count right? 😉

How exactly can one go about setting up this feature on their account?
While we wish it was a simple point-and-click, express invitation by Tencent is required to use this feature. While the qualifications are a bit nebulous, factors taken into consideration are the age of the account and the quantity and frequency of original posts, further incentivizing accounts to churn out that good old original content.

After receiving an invitation, accounts can formally apply for the feature, answering questions regarding the nature of the account and its functions. After the application is approved, the account will receive a notification from WeChat and the function will appear in the user’s backend, allowing them to set limitations on sharing.

The post will then go through a verification process that searches a database of previously published content, and – provided nothing matches up – up on the account it goes, certified unique and ready for account subscriber perusal.

What if you aren’t keeping it ‘OG’?
To report an account, click the upper right-hand menu option on an article and click “Report.”

That will bring you to a Chinese menu, with an option to report acts of plagiarism.

It’s no joke – in May 2015 over 500 public accounts received punishment for trademark infringement. For a business that relies heavily on WeChat for promotion (and as we well know by now many do), that was a much-needed wake up call.