WeChat, the multipurpose super-app from Tencent Holdings, has implemented a pop-up notification denying rumours that it has restricted Shanghai-related posts to local users only, amid pressure from authorities for online platforms to police Covid-19 content relating to the city. Screenshots started circulating over the weekend that WeChat, a ubiquitous app in China, had assembled a team to write new codes to separate users of Moments, a social network service within the app, based on their location and to prevent those outside Shanghai from reading posts by users based in the city. WeChat has denied the claims and from Sunday, sharing screenshots of posts making the separation accusation will result in a pop-up notification from WeChat dismissing the claims. “The information being reported [about separating users] is untrue,” the notification says, when a user tries to forward contested screenshots from group chats. “The government and official media have publicly debunked the rumour … [we] suggest verification before forwarding [this message].” WeChat suspends a dozen NFT public accounts to clean up crypto speculation Users can still choose to forward the screenshot, or click on a “know more” link that redirects them to a statement on WeChat’s official cybersecurity page, with a similar message about how the information is false. WeChat is a do-everything app with 1.27 billion monthly active users who use it to chat, read news, shop, order services amid many more things. According to WeChat’s creator Allen Zhang in 2021, about three-quarters of WeChat users were present every day on social network function Moments – where posts are only visible to the user’s WeChat contacts, and of these, 120 million users posted content actively. WeChat’s efforts to debunk the separation rumours came amid a stricter crackdown by the country’s internet watchdog on fake news relating to the Covid-19 situation in Shanghai , a city of 25 million residents which has been under lockdown since the start of April to battle an outbreak of the coronavirus fuelled by the highly transmissible Omicron variant. Life has come to a standstill in Shanghai but tech helping amid lockdowns The Shanghai office of the Cyberspace Administration of China has shut down 30 WeChat discussion groups and penalised 23 users for fabricating so-called rumours since April 8, according to an announcement by the agency last week. The crackdown follows increasingly vocal criticism of the local government’s handling of the situation, with many Shanghai netizens voicing their anger on social media. A video called Voice of April , a six-minute compilation of audio complaints about lockdown paired with drone footage of Shanghai, started spreading on WeChat and other social media platforms last Friday before being swiftly removed by censors . In a cat-and-mouse game with authorities, Chinese netizens tried multiple times to camouflage, republish and circulate the video by making alterations to the original to avoid censorship, before censors caught on and blocked new versions.