Were Nudes to Blame in Early Closing of WeChat Hongbao?

By Daniel Mannering, January 28, 2016

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For a short time on Tuesday, WeChat tested a new feature on Moments that essentially forced users to pay money to their friends in order to see their photos. The feature, called "Moments Lucky Money Photo," was only available to accounts set in Chinese and automatically blurred all photos, essentially throwing up a pane of frosted glass over images. 

Users went crazy over the new feature — how were they supposed to secretly admire that stranger’s yoga or gym posts, the meal they shared with friends or, more importantly, that charming picture of someone’s dog wearing a bowtie? 

WeChat blurry photo memes

WeChat blurry photo memes

WeChat blurry photo memes

WeChat blurry photo memes

WeChat blurry photo memesWeChat blurry photo memes

WeChat blurry photo memes

Luckily all they had to do to remove the smoke screen was to send a lucky money envelope to friends. What could possibly go wrong with such a concept, which was reportedly in development by the Tencent team for the past three months?

Unfortunately, the public testing was mysteriously shut earlier than advertised, initially pegged to run from 5-8pm. A second round was opened at 10.30pm, but it only allowed one photo per person. The abrupt closure left a lot of people wondering why the test was prematurely cut. 

According to China Channel, many jumped to the conclusion that a select number of entrepreneurial men and women had quickly caught on to a perky way of making a little extra yuan. 

Some screenshots making the rounds suggest that a flurry of naked photos may have been to blame for the early shutdown. (The screenshots aren't dated, so it's hard to verify their existence):

Were Nudes to Blame in Early Closing of WeChat Hongbao?

Were Nudes to Blame in Early Closing of WeChat Hongbao?

Tencent of course has denied such rumors, instead announcing that the testing phase closed early because they had achieved everything the test sought to accomplish in regards to server loads and user behavior. (We wonder if paying for a peek at someone's privates parts was on their checklist). 

It hasn’t yet been announced whether Moments Lucky Money Photo will become a permanent feature, or if it’s just the opening salvo in the war against Alipay for your heart and your lucky money this Spring Festival. But if they keep it up, Moments may just get even more popular — and definitely more expensive.

[Images Via ChCh]

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