Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

WeChat, Already Deeply Entrenched in China, Begins Program to Integrate With National ID

Shannon Liao, the Verge:

China’s most popular messaging app, WeChat, has always had a close relationship with the Chinese government. The app has been subsidized by the government since its creation in 2011, and it’s an accepted reality that officials censor and monitor users. Now, WeChat is poised to take on an even greater role: an initiative is underway to integrate WeChat with China’s electronic ID system.

It may be hard for people outside of China to grasp just how influential WeChat has become there. “For all intents and purposes WeChat is your phone, and to a far greater extent in China than anywhere else, your phone is everything,” wrote Ben Thompson, consultant and founder of the blog Stratechery. “There is nothing in any other country that is comparable: not LINE, not WhatsApp, not Facebook.”

Here’s something that news stories like these make me increasingly convinced about: progress on the exciting parts of sci-fi — instant transportation to the other side of the world, flying cars, and the near-eradication of hunger and diseases in developing nations, for example — feels impossibly slow, but the scary and dystopian parts are already here.