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While Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Apple Messages may be the chat apps of choice in the west, WeChat (Android, iOS) is king in China, the home of 1.38 billion people. In fact, WeChat is so popular there -- with a number of daily active users that rivals that of Instagram -- that it has its own catalog of "mini-apps" whose sheer size puts it in the same ZIP code as Google Play and iTunes App Store.

And within WeChat's own app store, you'll find the "rumor debunking assistant," which has been working overtime lately to help users separate fact from fiction.

SEE: Chinese government to restrict video game usage and the release of new games

According to Abacus, 300,000 people use this assistant every day; from the sound of it, the debunker mini-app is basically China's version of Snopes. But as an interactive app, this assistant can go further in several ways.

For example, it produces a running list of debunked stories for you within WeChat, and it has an option to search for more stories according to their keywords. Any fake news that you've read or shared will also be collected in a section called Related to Me. Last but not least, the assistant can send/heckle you with notifications when new debunkings pop up.

From the sound of it, WeChat's debunker add-on can both protect you from fake news and police how much you may be spreading it yourself. It's similar to some methods that Facebook (Android, iOS) has been employing in its own fight against fake news.

Abacus reports that WeChat has nuked over a million pieces of fake news in China, and it counts nearly 20 million users overall (the 300,000 users mentioned above are a core group that actually checks in at least once every 24 hours).

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In related news, WeChat's main competitor Alipay recently announced that it's investing 1 billion yen (about $146 million USD) to build its own app-store-within-a-store. While WeChat has a big lead, it created that within just 18 months, so Alipay may catch up sooner than we expect.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that up-and-comer chat app Bullet Message has been removed from the iOS App Store in China due to copyright infringements. (It also quickly built a reputation for providing explicit adult content, which is illegal in China; that issue was probably a contributing factor to its downfall.)

This may clear a path for both Alipay and WeChat to continue expanding the turf of their mini-app stores, and the turf of the mini-apps themselves.

Takeaways

  • Abacus reports that popular messaging app WeChat has a mini-app of its own that can help users identify fake news. WeChat is estimated to have about one billion monthly active users, putting it on the same level as Instagram in the west.
  • WeChat's "rumor debunking assistant" is said to have 300,000 daily active users who have used it to spot over one million instances of fake news circulating in the messaging app.

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Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.