'Self-destruct' social messaging tool targets China

KwikDesk allows online users to anonymously send messages, which will be removed on a pre-determined date, and are retrieved via hashtag search.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Newly-launched social messaging tool, KwikDesk, has made its way into China with a local version of the online platform and the help of exiled Chinese dissident, Wu'er Kaixi.

In an interview with South China Morning Post (SCMP), KwikDesk's founder Kevin Abosch said: "Aside from helping with translation of the product, [Wu'er] is also helping us reach the Chinese market."

Launched just last week, the online platform allows users to anonymously send messages of up to 300 words with hashtags and select a date when their messages would "self-destruct" and be removed. Existing messages can be searched via hashtags, each tagged with the date it was created and when it would "self-destruct".


Abosch said the Chinese-language version of KwikDesk was live this week and could potentially be an alternative platform for China's huge online population. He chose to work with Wu'er because of his work in human rights, adding he was not concerned that the social media platform could be blocked in China. "I don't see any reason the government would have a problem with KwikDesk," he told SCMP. 

Its association with Wu'er might actually provide that reason. Citing Beijing-based entrepreneur Hong Bo, the report said: "It's technically possible for KwikDesk to run in China, so long as it does not draw too much attention. But if Wu'er is involved, that is very bad for KwikDesk because it won't be able to operate in the country."

The Beijing-born Chinese dissident was one of the most outspoken student leaders, and China's second-most wanted person, who played a prominent role in the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests. He fled the country and has been in exile since.

On launch of the site, he said in a statement: "In the fight for freedom, we need platforms such as KwikDesk to anonymously exchange ideas."

Earlier this week, Wu'er attempted to surrender to authorities in Hong Kong and be extradited to mainland China, so he can visit his ailing parents whom he had not seen in 24 years. The latest incident was not the first time he had tried to return to China, having tried thrice before in 2009, 2010, and 2012 to surrender himself at Macao, Tokyo, and Washington, but was ignored or released by the local authorities. 


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