Online chat apps: Boon or bane?

May 08, 2014 08:58
Deceptive ads and information overload are prompting some people to stay away from online chat apps. Photo: Bloomberg

Social media and instant communication tools are changing the way we live our lives, but there is also a big downside -- unwanted messages, misleading ads and spam attacks.

Bombarded with sales pitches and a barrage of information that one doesn't really need or care about, many people are asking this question: are the chat apps a boon or a curse?   

In China, users of WeChat, the popular instant messaging service from Tencent, are complaining about being subject to a torrent of deceptive ads and excessive information.

On Monday, authorities in Chongqing busted a case in which a "travel agency" account told its followers on WeChat to "Like" its ads to win a free trip to Hong Kong and Macao, which was later proved to be deceptive, China Daily reported.

Similar cases were reported in the provinces of Guangdong, Sichuan, Shaanxi and Jiangsu, with unscrupulous persons trying to lure customers with promotions for coveted items, which they failed to deliver, the report said.

Along with fake ads, information overload on WeChat is causing some users to want to escape the flood of daily annoyances.

In February, Huang Zhen, a professor from the Central University of Finance and Economics, caused a buzz when he announced he would abandon all WeChat chat groups and "try to find some inner peace".

In a survey in March by a Shanghai newspaper, two-thirds of respondents had feelings of being "kidnapped" by WeChat, but most chose to put up with the barrage of messages and information.

-- Contact HKEJ [email protected]


EJ Insight reporter