Bytedance accuses Tencent of automated link blocking

Occurred: March 2021

TikTok owner Bytedance accused Chinese technology company Tencent of blocking links to its products, prompting questions about Tencent's governance and its compliance with competition law.

In a lengthy online post (in Mandarin), Bytedance said Tencent had been blocking traffic from its mobile social services WeChat and QQ to its own short-form video applications Douyin, Huoshan, and Xigua., for three years, “affecting more than 1 billion users.” 

The tussle between the two Chinese tech companies came amidst increased scrutiny of anti-competitive behaviour in the technology industry by the Chinese government. 

Bytedance is not the only company in Tencent's sights; the technology company has also been accused of prohibiting users from opening links to Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall online marketplaces. Bytedance said that Tencent's practice of blocking links to competitor sites has been going on for years. 

➖ February 2021. ByteDance’s Douyin sued Tencent alleging that Tencent’s WeChat and QQ messaging apps ban their users from sharing content from Douyin for three years.

September 2021. China's industry ministry instructed Alibaba, Tencent, Huawei and other large internet companies to stop blocking links to each other's sites, and threatened to take action against those that failed to heed its warning. 

Operator: Tencent
Developer: Tencent
Country: China
Sector: Technology
Purpose: Block web traffic
Technology: Link blocking
Issue: Monopolisation
Transparency: Governance; Marketing

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: January 2022