On February 29, Feishu, the Chinese version of ByteDance’s productivity app Lark, issued an announcement saying that Feishu-related page links were banned by WeChat without explanation. Currently, any Feishu-related link on WeChat cannot be automatically redirected. WeChat’s application programming interface (API) is also now off limits for the app.
According Feishu’s official statement, WeChat started banning its page links as early as February 28th. A user who wanted to visit a Feishu link was shown a message that the visit was stopped because “the webpage contained induced behaviors such as induced sharing, and received many complaints from users”.
WeChat did not respond to Feishu’s appeal to explain the nature of the problem and only changed the displayed message to an instruction one how to use the link outside of WeChat: “Please press and hold the URL to copy and use the browser to access”.
Feishu’s access to WeChat’s API has also been blocked, thus making it impossible for people to send links, invitations and digital business cards directly from the Feishu app to WeChat. Representatives of Feishu said that they have conducted a self-inspection which did not reveal any violations of WeChat rules.
Feishu, or Lark as it is known outside of China, is a Slack-like productivity and online office platform developed by ByteDance. Other notable Chinese productivity apps include Alibaba’s DingTalk and Tencent’s WeChat Work, all of which have experienced a double digit growth following China’s nationwide quarantine that forced the majority of the country’s white-collar workers to work remotely.
Tencent’s market position in social and gaming has faced intense competition from upstart ByteDance, and the rivalry between the two firms is set to intensify due to the unexpected surge of demand for enterprise platforms.