Chaping, an independent tech media on Tencent’s WeChat platform, announced on Monday that it will voluntarily refund the investment to Tencent after an online outcry about its series A funding from the Chinese tech giant.
Chaping, literally meaning bad review, is a WeChat public account focusing on tech reviews. One week ago its parent company, Hangzhou Magua Network Tech, shook hands with Tencent Open Platform Interest-Based Content Fund, known as TOPIC, for a 30 million yuan ($4.68 million) input into its latest fundraising round.
Due to Chaping’s notorious reputation for its plagiaristic conducts, Tencent has been under great attack since the news was released from online original content consumers and creators accusing Tencent of tolerating violation of intellectual property rights.
Established in 2015, Chaping was originally an independent media on the WeChat platform publishing reviews on Chinese tech products and companies. According to Tencent, Wechat has become China’s largest content publishing platform with its 20 million public accounts including 3.5 million monthly active ones such as Chaping.
While originality has been the core to what China calls “self-media” publishing and new media content making, Chaping received many plagiarism accusations for “article laundering,” a practice of rewriting an article enough not to detect the source of the original content.
In 2016, an IT programmer named Huo Ju sued Chaping for laundering his original article and republishing on Chaping’s WeChat public account without his permission. Huo Ju lost the lawsuit but many self-media commentators supported him online, condemning Chaping for the practice which they’ve done many times before.
Marshal Zhang, Tencent’s public relationship director, said in his WeChat post that Tencent accepted Chaping’s decision of refunding the investment. In his earlier post, Zhang said the investment was made by a subsidiary of Tencent and does not represent Tencent’s stance on intellectual property rights.
Chaping in its announcement said the company will carry out self-inspection and reflection.