Business / Talking Business

'Public accounts' losing allure on social media

By Lu Haotimg (China Daily) Updated: 2015-06-04 09:53

Last week a friend of mine who was attending a training course posted a message on WeChat: "What a boring lecture! The only benefit was I finally had time glancing through more than 60 unread articles on public accounts during the lecture."

Public accounts, similar to a blogging platform which enables users to push feeds to subscribers, were born in August 2012 on WeChat, China's most popular mobile message app. More than 8 million public accounts were created in the following less than two and one half years, which means nearly 9,000 public accounts were born every day.

Nearly 80 percent of WeChat users subscribe to public accounts, according to a survey jointly released in April by Tencent Holdings Ltd, which operates WeChat, and the China Academy of Telecommunication Research.

I am also one of the followers of the "we media", or peer-to-peer news production, but only with ever diminishing interest.

As a working mother of a 4-year-old boy, I now mainly follow two types of public accounts: work-related news analysis on the latest economic trends in China, and parenting tips for bringing up children.

However, only a year ago, I was a passionate consumer of new public accounts. I used to follow six public accounts about parenting advice, from practical skills on treating child fever, to "chicken soup" articles about how to better communicate with "the little devil".

But little by little, like my friend, I found unread articles piling up on my cell phone. And one day I was surprised to find there were more than 30 articles untouched under one public account.


First, the quality of the articles is getting poorer. Content is also more or less similar. In fact, I found that the same chicken-soup article was repeatedly used by several accounts.

The wide spread plagiarism has not gone unnoticed, however. More than 32,000 plagiarized articles were deleted and 497 public accounts were punished by Tencent between February and April. I think "we media" may only be a flash in the pan if sustainable quality control is not available.

Second, the product placement at the end of each feed kills my passion for reading. At first I trusted the recommendation of a list of must-have items I should bring when traveling with a toddler on long flights. But later I felt tired of being bombarded by advertisements for toys and books at the end of each feed.

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