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Can You Tell if Someone is Online in WeChat?

Posted by Jamie on September 1, 2019

The TechJunkie mailbox is full of WeChat questions from readers who have installed the app and are trying to get to grips with it. This page is going to answer some of the more popular ones, like ‘Can you tell if someone is online in WeChat?’ ‘Does WeChat notify when a message is read?’ ‘Is WeChat really spying for the Chinese government?’ ‘How do I find people on WeChat?’ ‘Does WeChat do video?’

WeChat is a superb little app. It spans continents but is used in completely different ways depending on where you live. If you’re in China, WeChat is an entire ecosystem that includes chat, social media, web browsing, payment gateways, ecommerce and more. Use it in the west and it is mainly a social network and chat app. Wherever you use it, you’re among up to a billion people who apparently regularly use WeChat.

I guess that’s why it is such a popular topic of discussion here. So let’s answer those questions.

Can you tell if someone is online in WeChat?

The answer is very short, no. You cannot tell if someone is online in WeChat. Notifications are not something WeChat wanted to get involved with and the online status is just one of them. There is no alert or marker to show whether someone is online in WeChat.

If you want to know if someone is there, you’re going to have to ask them.

Does WeChat notify when a message is read?

Which leads nicely on to this next question. Does WeChat notify when a message is read? Again the answer is no. WeChat didn’t want anything to do with these notifications either. It looked at other social networks that use notifications and didn’t like the effect it had on users.

People stressing out over a Read notification when a reply is a long time coming. Anxiety over whether you said something wrong or in having to respond quickly to a message in the fear that the original sender would get upset if they didn’t. All those things are negatives in social media and WeChat wanted to go a different way. This blog post over at WeChat explains their thinking.

Is WeChat really spying for the Chinese government?

This is a very contentious subject but is a question I often see asked about WeChat. It is unfortunate that we are suspicious of anything that comes out of China. That is mainly down to our own government and its suspicions over the nation. It is also down to China seemingly doing everything it can to justify that suspicion but that’s a debate for another day.

Is there any actual evidence that WeChat spies on users? No. Is there speculation that WeChat spies on users? Yes, plenty. It is covered here, here, here and here. These are all a year or so old but remain relevant until something changes. For now at least, you have to make your own mind up about whether you feel confident in using the app.

How do I find people on WeChat?

As a social network, WeChat offers a few ways to find people using the app. Once you install it onto your phone, you will be prompted to allow it to check your phone contacts. It will scroll through them and see if any of them also use WeChat and put you in touch with them.

You can also use the WeChat ID. Find out someone’s WeChat ID, hit Add Contact and enter their ID to friend them on the app. You can also use their QR code which works like Snapchat.

There is also a Discover feature where you can discover anyone close to your location who is also using WeChat. Select the Discover tab from within the app, select People Nearby and see who is online around you.

Does WeChat do video?

WeChat mimics many of the features of other networks and has recently introduced the ability to record short 20 second videos. This is no TikTok, but the ability to add a video to your social posting can be interesting or useful depending on your goal.

If you swipe down in the main WeChat window, you should open the camera app. Press and hold the camera icon to shoot your video. You can then save and share as you need.

Those are some of the more popular of the many WeChat questions we get asked here at TechJunkie. I’ll try and answer more soon and will keep going until we have answered all of them, so send them in if you have them!

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