A ByteDance-owned reading tool called “Shiqu” will officially stop all operations and services from December 12. This app, launched by ByteDance in April this year, allows users to subscribe to desired information based on keywords and data sources.
The cancellation of Shiqu has been predicted for a long time. On July 26, it was removed from major app stores, and the company did not give any official reason for its removal.
The app is based on an invitation system, requiring a high entry threshold. After joining, users can join interest-based groups in the navigation bar on the left side of the homepage, such as “Pop Music Observation” and “Business Depth.” These groups are created by individual users, and each user can only create three groups which cannot be deleted.
It is worth noting that content in the groups is provided by high-quality authors and media captured by the system robots from ByteDance’s Toutiao, a news and information content platform. After clicking on content, users can jump to the Toutiao page.
Shiqu also provides users with a reading mode, which automatically filters content unrelated to the text on the web page of Toutiao, making the reading interface more refreshing and concise. In addition, there is a web page version of Shiqu, where users can operate synchronously at both ends.
In ByteDance’s current system, Shiqu is not based on strong algorithmic recommendations, probably due to regulation that was officially implemented in China on March 1. These rules explicitly require algorithmic recommendation service providers to protect users’ right to know and choose, providing them with options that are not related to their personal characteristics, or otherwise offering convenient options to close the service.
This regulation is clearly not helpful for ByteDance, which is rapidly rising by virtue of its recommendation algorithms. At that time, insiders speculated that the tech giant might want to bring more users and creators to Toutiao.
Since Chinese super-app WeChat became popular, internet companies have never stopped pursuing social product innovation. Short video social product “Duoshan” and interest-based social product “Feiliao,” which were once given high hopes by ByteDance, failed to support these ambitions. Duoshan was merged into Douyin, while Feiliao’s team was dissolved.