Chinese ride-hailing firm Yidao complained that they had been blocked by China’s largest social network WeChat. The story is fermenting, as some top Chinese bosses have joined the discussion on whether it’s ethical to do so.
“I believe everyone deserves fair treatment in this Internet world, and the users deserve more choices,” Zhou Hang, Founder and CEO of Yidao, said in his Weibo on Wednesday.
In his Weibo, Zhou also attached a public complaint letter to Tencent CEO Pony Ma. According to the letter, Yidao users found they were blocked when sharing a post on WeChat’s “Moments”, the status-sharing area on Wechat. The post was about an app developed by Yidao to compare the prices of several ride-hailing firms in China.
Zhou got even more pissed after he found out that Yidao’s users could not share information of the Yidao app on WeChat, either.
Tencent’s Pony Ma publicly replied to Zhou’s letter. He said that Yidao’s price comparing app was blocked automatically by the WeChat system because it is a form of disguised advertising, something which is against WeChat’s stated business principles.
However, this only poured oil on the flames, because Yidao found that similar information by Tencent-invested Didi, China’s largest ride-hailing firm, was somehow able to be shared in WeChat.
In this dispute, Yidao was backed by Chinese tech giant LeEco, its controlling shareholder.
“WeChat is indeed a great platform. But what could happen if it abandons the user value and the spirit of the Internet – openness, sharing, freedom and equality – in its pursuit of monopoly?” said Jia Yueting, Founder and CEO of LeEco, in his Weibo on Thursday.
Xiaomi’s CEO Lei Jun posted a comment in his Weibo, praising Pony Ma’s attention to detail as a business leader though.
Apparently, Yidao is not the first “victim” of WeChat. Uber China’s official accounts in WeChat have previously been blocked for similar reasons in December 2015.
Yidao would indeed be wronged if its rival Didi is not blocked by WeChat simply because Tencent is its investor. However, Tencent claimed that they had in fact blocked information of Didi that they deemed improper, too.
Alas! If only Chinese tech bosses spent less time on WeChat.
(Top photo from ciaoke.com)