On Saturday, Tencent’s WeChat said it “cleaned up” its social media platform, punishing a slew of apps that the company says failed to obey its code of conduct. Links to ByteDance’s news aggregator app Jinri Toutiao were also scrubbed. The following day, ByteDance vice president Li Liang hit back by accusing China’s most popular social media app of misusing its dominance.
“Does WeChat have monopoly status like that with water and electricity? Think about whether you add a phone number or WeChat account number when you meet a new friend, and it will become clear,” Li said.
WeChat said Jinri Toutiao was luring new users by offering electronic red envelopes, which offer cash for sign-ups.
China’s top ride-hailer Didi Chuxing and e-commerce platform JD were also cited as examples where cash was offered to users who shared links to the platforms’ content. Jinri Toutiao was also accused of changing its domain name more than 72 times to dodge blocking.
This incident is the latest development in the antagonism between Tencent and ByteDance.
“For repetitive violators, a step-by-step punishment mechanism will be adopted, including but not limited to lowering the daily sharing limit, restricting the use of WeChat login function interface, permanently blocking accounts, domain names, IP addresses or sharing interfaces,” WeChat warned.
Editor: Brady Ng