WeChat blocks Douyin registration as social media app spat escalates

2 min read
抖音 Douyin dou yin tik tok
(Image credit: Douyin)

As from earlier this week, some Chinese netizens are unable to register to popular short-video app Douyin using WeChat, marking the latest twist in a bitter battle between Douyin parent company Bytedance and WeChat owner Tencent.

According to an announcement by Douyin, known as Tiktok internationally, new users have failed to register for accounts on the short-video platform using their WeChat accounts, a registration method that was available until earlier this week. Old users have so far not been affected and can still log in using WeChat.

Tencent was not immediately available for comment.

The dispute between Bytedance and Tencent has escalated over the past year as they fight for the attention of Chinas netizens. Tencent has blocked users from directly sharing Douyin content on its messaging app since March 2018. The move later resulted in a public spat between the founders of Bytedance and Tencent on WeChat’s News Feed-like feature, Moments.

Douyin said that the latest incident is not a technical fault on its platform, and WeChat had not communicated possible reasons for the problem. It also warned its users to immediately bind their mobile phone numbers to their accounts instead of WeChat as their only login method.

So far Douyin is unsure if the fault can be repaired and if existing WeChat-authorized accounts will be totally blocked,” the company said in the statement. Douyin singled out Tencent as the reason for the problem, saying that there had been “no smooth conversation” with the company.

According to Caixin (in Chinese), WeChat cut off the registration method following alleged misuse of WeChat user data by Douyin.  Earlier this week, dozens of Douyin users who had registered using WeChat reportedly found their WeChat acquaintances in their Douyin video feed and friend recommendations.

Douyin immediately denied the allegations, saying it isn’t possible for the video platform to access WeChat user data as a third-party application. It also appealed for normal competition among players in the market, adding that Tencent should not make excuses for blocking and defaming it. 

Earlier this month, Bytedance launched video messaging app Duoshan as it set its sights on WeChat’s users. WeChat then blocked links to the app, along with two others that were released on the same day. Duoshan has since been downloaded 1 million times and has risen to become one of the top ranking free apps in Apple’s China App Store this week.