WeChat announces stricter rules on external links, will hit video-sharing platforms

Updated 2018-05-21 10:39:04

Tighter restrictions on external links announced by WeChat on Friday might be a "blow" to video platforms that pose threats to it, an industry insider told the Global Times on Sunday.

According to a statement posted on its WeChat official account on Friday, the social media platform said it would further restrict external links to protect users' privacy and optimize customers' experience.

The statement said "external links must not spread content containing audiovisual programs in any form without obtaining related government certificates."

It is estimated that at least 21 videos platforms, including kuaishou, Douyin and Pear video will be affected.

Pear video declined to comment when contacted by the Global Times on Sunday.

An industry insider surnamed Liu told the Global Times on Sunday that this move is an opportunity for WeChat to land a blow against many competitors, since the hot video apps "stripped" many of WeChat's users.

A report released by consulting firm iResearch showed that the market for short videos rose 184 percent last year to 5.73 billion yuan (8.6 million) in 2017, and it is expected to exceed 300 billion yuan by 2020.

Meanwhile, fewer WeChat public accounts have been opened in recent years. According to sohu.com, from 2015 to 2016, the public account opening rate was about 10 percent, but the rate is now below 5 percent.

On Friday, WeChat banned sharing of a video from Douyin on WeChat, after the video went viral.

In response, Douyin said "We regret the ban by WeChat and apologize for trouble to our users. We are still figuring out the specific reasons for the ban," the Economic Daily reported on Friday.

The video was a part of the marketing effort for the 42nd International Museum Day, which incorporates a number of elements such as hip hop.

It had received 2 million views from 7 p.m. on Thursday to mid-Friday.

According to a screenshot seen by the Global Times on Sunday, Tencent's PR department said in a post in his WeChat moments that the video "deliberately enticed the public to share" since on the right side of the video, there are words reading "share me quickly." WeChat has rules to block videos like this, said the PR.

"In less than two years, Douyin has become the trendiest short video app for young Chinese people. Its sharp rise poses a real threat to many existing social media platforms including WeChat and Weibo," Liu said.

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