What is WeChat? Everything you need to know about the popular messaging app, including how to sign up
- WeChat is one of the world’s most popular social media messaging apps, and is similar to WhatsApp.
- WeChat supports video, voice, and text chat and has unique features like localized translation.
- To sign up for WeChat, an existing user will need to scan a QR code on your phone.
- Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.
With more than a billion monthly users, WeChat is one of the most popular social messaging apps in the world, especially in China.
No matter what country you’re in, WeChat is free to download — but signing up for an account isn’t so easy.
What is WeChat?
Launched in 2011 and owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent, WeChat has grown from a messaging app to become a unique social media hybrid. Services like Facebook are banned in China, so WeChat is the standard for business and communication.
WeChat supports the basics like voice chatting, picture messaging, and video calling. You can also share your real-time location with friends, play mini-games with each other, and post to a Story-like feature called “moments.”
It also has a feature called WeChat Out that lets you call international landlines at a low rate. This comes with a localization feature that will translate messages and content between 20 different languages.
However, it’s not nearly as secure as other messaging apps like Signal or Telegram. This is especially the case in China, where certain topics are actively censored and Tencent shares user data with the government. The app doesn’t have any sort of encryption, meaning that your messages can be potentially intercepted and read by third-party groups.
WeChat is free to download for iPhone and Android users.
How to sign up for WeChat
Despite its popularity, signing up for WeChat isn’t as easy as making a username and password.
When you try to sign up, someone who already has an account will need to scan a QR code to verify you. If you don’t have someone to scan the code, you can’t open an account.
Here’s a more detailed step-by-step.
Signing up for WeChat
Unlike other apps, you can’t freely sign up for WeChat. Instead, you’ll need someone who already has the account to let you in.
- Download WeChat from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.
In the app, tap “Sign up.”
Sign up with your Apple ID (if on an iPhone), Google account (if on an Android), Facebook account, or phone number.
- Set an avatar, username, and password, then agree to the Terms of Service.
- WeChat will ask you to agree to its privacy terms by checking off a box near the bottom of the screen. This document details what information they collect and how it will be shared.
You’ll be asked to solve a short puzzle, probably by sliding a puzzle piece.
Once you solve the puzzle, you’ll be given the QR code, along with instructions on how to get verified. The person who verifies you needs to be in good standing, and can’t have verified another user within the last month.
- Once they scan your code and enter your phone number, WeChat will send you a verification code. Enter that code in the app, and your account will be activated.
Now you can send messages using WeChat.
Related coverage from Tech Reference:
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What is WhatsApp? A guide to navigating the free internet-based communication platform
What to know about Signal, the secure messaging app that keeps all of your conversations private
Is Telegram secure? Here’s what you need to know about the messaging app that rivals WhatsApp and Signal
How to make a Telegram account and start using the popular group chatting app
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