Alibaba Launches New Social Network for College Students

Alibaba has released a social networking app for university students named Real Ruwo (lit. the real me), Chinese media reported on September 24. The Chinese tech giant has had no luck with its previous attempts at establishing a prosperous social network and is now placing their bets on the new stand-alone app.

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With the slogan, “Real Life, Real You,” the app enables students to interact with each other by sending text messages, photos, videos and more. It is now available for Android and iOS but only to a small group of people through an invitation code, mostly students attending the several universities located in Alibaba’s home city of Hangzhou.

The app supports facial recognition for login and features a variety of filters and stickers for photo and video editing.

Alibaba’s nemesis Tencent has been ruling a large part of the social media sector in China with its almighty WeChat for more than half a decade now, and the Real Ruwo app is the e-commerce giant’s latest move into social networking, a domain where it has yet to make a substantial claim.

In 2013, Alibaba launched messaging service Laiwang as a WeChat contender. Despite having an exclusive promotion budget of 1 billion yuan ($140 million), the app was unfortunately ultimately kicked out of the market.

With this new attempt to break into the social media sector, Alibaba is joining the new trend of launching college campus-based social networking apps. JD Finance began testing university social app Liwowo in early September, and Bytedance acquired campus social networking software Biu Campus two weeks ago.