Tencent’s WeChat blocks learning apps from incentivising users to spam, saying it breaks rules – South China Morning Post

What happened: On Monday, WeChat reiterated its rule against companies offering rewards for users to share advertising-related content, naming educational apps in particular. WeChat said that repeated violations would result in accounts being shut down, citing examples like English-language learning applications Mint Reading and Liulishuo. Both offered incentives, through tuition specials for instance, for users to share links to their services on WeChat’s Moments newsfeed feature. The promotions harmed user experience, WeChat said.

Why it’s important: Although the rule against incentives already existed, the recent reminder could be a wake-up call for educational companies which depend on WeChat’s word-of-mouth advertising. Barring rewards for users who share links may require marketing spending to be diverted into other channels. Previously, WeChat has made other moves to protect successful features from becoming too commercialized; for instance, it sued app operators as well as an Android app store over a tool which automatically “snatched” virtual money on WeChat. Tencent’s flagship social app has also long been known for blocking external links to rival platforms such as Alibaba’s e-commerce giant Taobao or Bytedance’s short-video app Douyin—moves which have led to monopoly claims by competitors.

Bailey Hu is based in China’s hardware capital, Shenzhen. Her interests include local maker culture, grassroots innovation and how tech shapes society, as well as vice versa. More by Bailey Hu

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