This article is essentially a how-to guide for requesting Tencent to send you a copy of your personal WeChat data. This set of data includes your account information, moments posts, favorites files, contacts data, geo-location and login records. For most users this won’t be so easy, but it is possible, we’ve tested it.
What makes this possible is that Tencent must meet GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) requirements for European WeChat users. For those European WeChat users who already have their account linked to a European phone number then the process will be much easier. We’ll start with that scenario first, and then in the second part, we’ll look at the extra steps needed for non-European users. If you’re unsure which number is linked to your account go to Me>Settings>Account Security>Phone.
Part 1: European users
Disclaimer: The account we tested was Dutch. It’s possible that this process does not work for all European nationalities.
Unsurprisingly the option to export your data is buried so deep that very few people would ever know it’s there. Go to Me>Settings>Account Security>More Settings and you should see an option for Export Personal Data.
You need to have a verified email account linked to your WeChat in order to make the export. Most people don’t have this setup, so do this first.
You’ll have options to select which kinds of personal data you wish to export.
You will get a notice saying that Tencent will send you the data within 72 hrs. For us when we tested it, they sent it over in less than an hour. You’ll receive an email with a security QR code to scan with your WeChat account.
After which there will be a download link. As you can see from the picture, the total size of the download for our test account was over 300 MB.
Once downloaded you should have a bunch of folders as such:
In short, the files include:
- all the original files saved in your favorites
- all videos and pictures you’ve posted on Moments
The data download does not include your private message history. Tencent has consistently claimed there is no permanent storage of private WeChat one on one and group chat conversations on their servers.
Part 2: Non-European users
For non-European users, the option for Export Personal Data will simply not appear on your account. In order to get the option to appear you will need to link your account to a European phone number and confirm that phone number through SMS text message verification.
The best way to do this would be to purchase a European SIM card and transfer the phone number linked to your account from Me>Settings>Account Security>Phone. An easier way would be to purchase a virtual SIM card. We’ll show you how to do that with an app called ‘DingTone’.
Disclaimer: I have no association with DingTone, just using it as an example of how virtual number services work. This is not an endorsement of their service.
Download DingTone using the links from their site: (VPN needed if you’re in China): http://dingtone.me or use the Google Play / Apple app store. Upon opening the app select the options as indicated in the picture below:
You’ll be asked to choose a phone number and purchase a yearly plan. WeChat Pay is currently a payment option.
Congrats, you now have a European phone number and should be able to receive the verification SMS text message from WeChat to this new number.
Important note: after changing your linked phone number the option to export personal data should appear, however selecting this option will initially lead to the following error message:
Check back every few days, it may take a few weeks before this message no longer appears and you are free to export your data. Once you can get past the error screen you can follow the same process as a normal European user outlined previously above.