Tencent culls WeChat accounts in China’s latest content clean-up

(AFP pic)

HONG KONG: Tencent Holdings Ltd plans to rein in content on WeChat by culling the number of public accounts on the platform, responding to the latest in a series of Chinese government clean-ups that’s rattled the internet sector.

WeChat is cutting limits on “official accounts” — akin to verified Twitter accounts through which individuals and companies share news and information — to just one per person and two per company, the social media service said on its website Friday. That’s down from five-per-company in the past, a reduction intended to comply with regulations on maintaining “healthy” content.

China’s cyberspace watchdogs have in the past year come down hard on its most prominent tech giants, seeking to eradicate content they deem destabilizing. They’ve targeted companies including news aggregator Bytedance Ltd. WeChat, the go-to everyday app for close to 1.1 billion people, became one of several platforms to shut 9,800 social media accounts this month.

The cap on accounts mark another setback for Tencent, which has shed more than $200 billion in market value since peaking in January. The company relies on content to draw users to WeChat and bolster its appeal to advertisers, and it’s already facing intense competition from upstarts such as Bytedance. On the gaming front, Tencent said this week it had no updates on when regulators would lift a freeze on licensing approvals that’s hampered its ability to make money off its biggest games.