Shop Digital Version Subscribe to the Print Edition TWOC TV

Weibo bans barcodes in blow to WeChat

Today two of China's biggest social-internet giants are fighting over users


Today, China’s two foremost social-networks are locked in an increasingly bitter struggle over users.

Sina Weibo said in a statement it would “crack down on users disseminating QR (quick response) codes – a type of bar-code – and other marketing information,” and reports say that Sina Weibo is “purging promotional posts about WeChat from all micro-blog profiles.”

Sina Weibo did not directly name its main rival WeChat, the ever-growing social network which now has over 468 million monthly users, but it is the main instant messaging platform that widely uses QR codes.

The social-network went on to say, “The clean-up operation is mainly targeted at accounts [on Weibo] that do marketing in a coercive way.”

The bold move might have something to do with the latest figures released from the China Internet Information Center, which suggested that Weibo has lost “over 20 percent of its users this year”, while at the same time WeChat is rapidly growing. Reports by the Economist from January of this year also found that the text messaging app was only going to get bigger.

Even though the two services are quite different, they are frequently compared because of their massive popularity in China. WeChat is owned by Shenzhen-based Tencent while E-commerce giant Alibaba, a bitter rival of Tencent, holds a 32 percent stake in Sina Weibo.

Read our profile of Alibaba owner Jack Ma in our latest issue, or get a sneak preview here.

According to news agency Xinhua:

“The move came after WeChat shut down the promotion channel of Kuaidi Dache, a taxi-hailing service under Weibo’s stakeholder Alibaba, which has gone head-to-head with Tencent on all fronts, including Internet finance and e-commerce.

“In 2013, Taobao, an online-shopping platform operated by Alibaba, blocked visits from WeChat. [And then] Alibaba’s online payment platform Alipay, later banned WeChatters.”

What do you think about the whole saga? Are you a dedicated Weibo fan, or is WeChat your chosen social media?  Let us know in the comment box below.


Image courtesy of International Business Times

Follow us

Subscribe to our newsletter