Last night saw a rather sudden and unexpected announcement from WeChat team. The official statement was short and to the point: No one can change their profile information until the end of the month. From testing, it seems it’s true, see pics below:
Left: Error message when trying to change profile picture Right: Error message when trying to change profile name
The full message from WeChat team
In the near future, WeChat will be conducting system maintenance, from now until the end of this month, users will temporarily be unable to modify their profile picture, name, and tagline. Other features are not affected. We ask for users understanding with regard to the resulting inconvenience.
WeChat Team 17th Oct 2017
What going on?
With the announcement coming on the eve of China’s 19th party congress it’s hard to believe there’s not at least some connection between the two. The fact that China’s other major social networks Weibo and QQ also released similar statements puts things beyond doubt that this is not a simple “system maintenance” issue. The most likely explanation would seem to be that WeChat is doing backend work to lay the groundwork for implementing the new online social credit system mandated very recently by the Chinese government. This change is likely to only affect Chinese users.