Man Kills Himself Over WeChat Account

1.2 billion people use the app worldwide. The affect of a WeChat ban on individuals and businesses will be immense.

Jennifer Chan
    Aug 28, 2020 7:05 AM  PT
Man Kills Himself Over WeChat Account
author: Jennifer Chan   

On August 15, reports spread through China that a man had jumped off the roof of Tencent's 11-story office in Shenzhen over a temporary suspension from his WeChat account. Today, the tragic event was confirmed as a suicide by WeChat owner and tech giant Tencent (OTC: TCEHY; HKEX: 0700). 

According to the brother of the 21-year old victim, the latter shot a video explaining his self-inflicted demise. Mr.Tang, the victim, who owned a small business in Shenzhen, was overwrought after filing several appeals to Tencent to lift the suspension. His appeals fell on deaf ears. 

It is easy to dismiss this event as a bizarre and disturbing case of a serious overreaction. Such was the sentiment of many Chinese social media users regarding the tragic suicide. But, while most people won't kill themselves on account of a permanent, let alone a temporary, suspension from WeChat, this sad state of affairs does highlight the importance of WeChat on the lives of the 1.2 billion people worldwide who regularly use the popular app. 

It also highlights Tencent's need for better, more sensitive, and expeditious customer service. 

While we do not expect a tidal wave of suicides should President Trump ban the app, it will leave many people feeling even more isolated, particularly Chinese-American students in the U.S., many of whom are struggling with isolation in the pandemic-stricken nation. 

U.S. Businesses Are Running Out of Patience

In three-and-a-half weeks, the ban Trump unilaterally placed on WeChat will come into effect. The clock is indeed TikToking. Yet U.S. businesses still have no idea whether such a ban would impact their China-based operations.

 American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai President Ker Gibbs, spoke with Caixin Thursday evening:

"We don't have any clarity on it at all," Gibbs said. "The administration is being very unclear and non-communicative."

Nearly 90% of businesses surveyed are concerned that the impending WeChat ban will hurt their Chinese operations. And 5% said that the ban would force them to terminate employees back in the U.S.