WeChat will begin cracking down on falsified pageviews and followers on public accounts beginning tomorrow (August 8), local media is reporting.

WeChat said that in order to “ensure the healthy operation of the platform” it would be attempting to eliminate false data, including that created by the use of bots. It said that while there may be some differences between past and new statistical data, it would not have an actual effect on traffic.

“Cracking down on fake views and fake followers is a pretty uncontroversial move. These have always been vanity metrics,” Andrew Schorr, founder of enterprise contact center solutions provider Grata, told TechNode. “We’ve seen clients run campaigns where the vendor was clearly buying followers for the client. You get unbelievable growth numbers during the campaign, then everyone unfollows you over the next couple weeks, and none of your real metrics see any impact,” he said.

Nonetheless, in Tencent’s 2016 crackdown on unwanted bots, public accounts saw a marked drop in activity. At the time owners of some WeChat public accounts, which previously garnered over 10,000 views per article, saw their views diminish by as much as 90%.

Companies have been able to increase their metrics by paying firms that specialize in fake accounts. These firms charge as little as RMB 15 ($2.20) for 1000 views and RMB40 ($5.85) for sharing 100 times. Once payment is made, bots visit the account repeatedly increasing the total number of page views.

This is not the first crackdown Tencent has led recently. Last week, WeChat announced that it had shut down 8,000 groups and 4,000 accounts in the first half of 2018 for spreading investment rumors. Those dealing in false information would pose as legitimate investment advisors and offer tips in exchange for money, with some even going as far as luring in unsuspecting buyers through live streaming services.

Christopher Udemans is TechNode's former Shanghai-based data and graphics reporter. He covered Chinese artificial intelligence, mobility, cleantech, and cybersecurity.

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