Tencent’s WeChat requires disclosure of AI-generated content to combat misinformation

“If the content is AI-generated, it must be labelled,” WeChat said on Wednesday via its content-security account, Shanhu – the Chinese word for “coral”.

The super app, marketed as Weixin on the mainland, will help identify AI-generated content (AIGC) on the platform by displaying the relevant tag at the bottom of a published post.

WeChat users are also required to describe whether any posted content is a work of fiction, and disclose sources – including authoritative media or professional entities – when the information is related to “domestic and international current affairs, public policies and social events”. The platform said it disapproves of all unethical practices to generate online traffic.

WeChat, marketed as Weixin on the mainland, helps identify artificial intelligence-generated content on the platform by displaying the relevant tag at the bottom of a published post. Photo: Shutterstock

The updated content-moderation policy of WeChat forms part of a broader industry effort to promote greater AIGC transparency, while protecting internet users from online abuse, scams and misinformation.

Global hit short video platform TikTok last month automated the labelling of AIGC posts under a partnership with the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity and the Adobe-led Content Authenticity Initiative. That comes a year after Chinese sibling Douyin introduced tools for watermarking AIGC. TikTok followed suit with the roll-out of AIGC-disclosure labels in September 2023.
Also last month, Chinese authorities launched an action plan on establishing AI standards. Work on “general, foundational, ethical, security and privacy standards” in large language models and generative AI will be intensified, according to a document released by the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, along with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and State Administration for Market Regulation.
Tencent Holdings last month reported that the combined monthly active users of WeChat and Weixin reached about 1.4 billion in the March quarter. Photo: Shutterstock
In March, the Cyberspace Administration of China promised to clean up “unlabelled and likely misleading” AIGC in its latest campaign. The regulator demanded that online platforms remove accounts “that use computer-generated technology for spreading rumours, marketing or hype”.

Chinese authorities in May 2023 released the “Interim Measures for the Management of Generative Artificial Intelligence Services”. These measures encourage the application of generative AI across various industries, while safeguarding against illegal and non-compliant activities.

In February this year, the Guangzhou Internet Court ruled against a Chinese AI firm for infringing the intellectual property of Japanese company Tsuburaya Productions, copyright owner of the popular Ultraman superhero franchise, which granted an exclusive licence in China to plaintiff Shanghai Character License Administrative Co. In a significant legal precedent, the court found that the Chinese AI firm violated the 2023 AI measures for generating identical or substantially similar images of the Ultraman series.
WeChat’s AIGC-moderation policy also comes at a time when it has boosted the promotion of Channels, the app’s short-video and live-streaming feature. Channels directly competes against the services of Douyin and Kuaishou Technology.

Tencent last month reported a more than 80 per cent year-on-year increase in total user time spent on Channels in the first quarter. Channels has become a major driver of Tencent’s advertising business.

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