Uber censorship on Chinese social media a system ‘blip’
Fri 17 Jul 2015
A technical ‘malfunction’ has caused a block on Uber-related searches and posts on Chinese mobile messaging platform WeChat, according to a spokesperson [Chinese] for the Tencent-owned company on Thursday.
Users found that their search for Uber’s official WeChat account returned no results. Stories about the U.S.-based taxi-hailing app had also disappeared from WeChat news site ifeng.com.
Furthermore users who shared Uber content on Moment, WeChat’s image and information-sharing service, were able to see their own post, but the material would not appear on their friends’ feeds.
According to one WeChat user the service had started censoring Uber content from March this year.
A Tencent PR representative stated yesterday that the blockage had been a mistake: “We’ve just gotten inquiries from reporters asking whether or not Uber is totally blocked on WeChat […] From the product side, I understand that a blip in our system led to an error, and we’re already in the process of gradually returning things to normal.”
Uber has declined to comment on the issue.
Didi Dache, Tencent-backed taxi-app, remained untouched by the WeChat ‘blip’, causing many commenters to agree that “Tencent did it on purpose.”
Tencent and Uber’s Chinese rival Didi Dache enjoy wide domestic coverage across most online platforms, including group-buying site gaopeng.com and restaurant review community dianping.com – both invested in by Tencent.
WeChat is one of China’s most popular instant messaging apps, and Moment is expected to become one of the top social media platforms in the country. WeChat has approximately 549mn registered users and 8mn official accounts representing brands, according to Tencent’s most recent earnings report released on the 13th May.
An official letter leaked last month revealed that Uber is planning a hefty $1bn (£650mn) investment in China, citing that cracking the Chinese market was its ‘number one priority.’