Tencent and ByteDance bicker about short video business

June 4, 2021 11:58 pm

A Tencent executive recently said that short video platforms "help" the spread of vulgar content, triggering a fierce counterattack from ByteDance. Some netizens described the situation as "evil versus evil".

Details: On June 3, at the 9th China Internet Audio & Video Convention held in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu, Sun Zhonghuai, vice president of Tencent, criticized short videos as "very anti-intellectual and vulgar" entertainment consumer products.

"The technology of personalized content distribution [according to users' likes] is too strong. If you like pig's feed, all you can see on the short video platform is pig's feed, nothing else," Sun said.

Although Sun did not name a specific short video platform, the management of ByteDance, the owner of popular short-video platforms Douyin and TikTok, quickly responded. 

Li Liang, vice president of ByteDance said on Friday Tencent is vigorously developing its own short video sector, meanwhile attacking it.

Tencent's short video feature "Channels" is the only short video platform so far that has yet launched a mode for the underaged as required, Li said.

Following the executive's counterattack, ByteDance posted a list, detailing the history of how its products were prohibited on Tencent's platforms from 2018 to 2021.

The list shows that Tencent prohibits the six products of ByteDance from being shared and published directly on its social media apps WeChat and QQ, affecting more than 1 billion users.

Context: The number of users on short video, other video formats and livestreaming reached 873 million, 704 million and 617 million, respectively, accounting for 88.3%, 71.1% and 62.4% of all internet users,

With the rise of ByteDance's products, mostly short video apps, the battle between Tencent and the upstart has become more intense. The two had been engaged in a bitter court battle since last year over what is fair use in China's online entertainment market.

Although ByteDance on Friday revealed the fact that it was suppressed by Tencent, some netizens described the situation as "evil versus evil".

Douyin was fined by Beijing regulators in January for spreading obscene, pornographic, and vulgar information. Tencent's relative monopoly in social networks, video games, and streaming has also aroused criticism from netizens.

Reuters has reported that the Chinese government is considering a fine of at least $1.54 billion against Tencent for failing to properly report past acquisitions and investments for antitrust reviews.