WeChat recently incited the anger of Chinese netizens for ‘discrimination’ after targeting adverts based on the suspected income level of its users.
While targeted adverts are the bane of social network users the world over, the users of WeChat were outraged not to find adverts in their friend circle from luxury car manufacturer BMW, instead being courted by the likes of mobile phone company Vivo or, even more humiliatingly, Coca-Cola.
Further rumblings of discontent were later generated after an image explaining the algorithm behind the targeted advertisements went viral, claiming that those with an estimated income of over one million yuan would receive BMW ads and those less well off would get either Vivo or Coca-Cola ads. The post concluded by suggesting that those who could see no adverts should stop wasting their time repeatedly refreshing their friend circle and get back to work.
Weibo user “Our Hui Zhou” took to the internet to express his frustration at the lack of BMW adverts:
Distressed after refreshing the friend circle timeline all day and still I couldn’t see the BMW ad… The friend circle ads are really sophisticated, and those who do not have income like me are discriminated against.
Another slightly more well-to-do user named Vashin was also slighted, complaining in an article for the Financial Times that:
I’m a nouveau riche in a top-tier city using an Apple 6 plus and I didn’t receive the BMW ads, so I’m going to buy a Mercedes.
The advertisements introduced January 25 mark the first attempt by Tencent, the parent company which owns WeChat, to monetize the service. The trick will be in discerning the real advertisements from the fake ones.
By Dominic Jackson
[Image via Tech In Asia]