WeChat has made its content searchable on some foreign search engines such as Google and Bing, checks have showed, in the latest tearing down of “walled gardens” in China’s internet sector.
Content from China’s most popular messaging app WeChat, including articles and videos on its popular public accounts page, a function similar to a news portal, has opened to external search engines, other than Tencent’s own Sogou search engine, in recent days.
Tencent, Google and Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Google is not available in China.
China’s internet sector has been long dominated by a handful of technology giants who have historically blocked each others rivals’ links as well as their search crawlers. The practice is often referred to as ‘walled gardens’.
In recent months, this practice has been targeted by Chinese authorities as part of a sweeping regulatory crackdown.
Last month, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) ordered companies to stop blocking links, which they said has affected users’ experience and damaged consumer rights.
The MIIT has been studying plans and conducting research to make WeChat content available on external search engines, according to a person with direct knowledge.
MIIT and Tencent did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Citi analysts said in a Tuesday note that the potential “opening up of the social ecosystem to search engine” was a positive development for Baidu, as its “leading search gateway position has been weakened and diluted by the growth and dominance of super apps.”
The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed the ‘WeChat makes content searchable on Google and Bing‘ article. Automatic translation from English to a growing list of languages via Google AI Cloud Translation. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Yingzhi Yang and Brenda Goh. Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Kim Coghill.
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