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Tencent faces lawsuit in China for endangering minors

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By Shawn Lim | Reporter, Asia Pacific

August 10, 2021 | 3 min read

A Beijing-based prosecutor has filed a lawsuit against Tencent for endangering minors when they using the platform's WeChat super app.

The lawsuit alleged super app WeChat’s ’youth mode’ does not comply with laws protecting minors, even though the mode prevents younger users from accessing payments, playing certain games and finding nearby friends.

“We will earnestly inspect and check the functions of WeChat youth mode, accept user suggestions humbly and sincerely respond to civil public-interest litigation,“ Tencent said in a statement.

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The authorities alleged its Tencent’s super app WeChat's youth mode does not comply with laws protecting minors.

Why is Tencent facing regulation?

  • This is the latest in wider regulation from the Chinese government.

  • The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) previously singled out Kuaishou, Tencent’s messaging tool QQ, Alibaba’s Taobao, and Weibo, as well as other platforms for not cleaning up seven types of illegal content.

  • These include children on live streams and becoming social media influencers, promoting “money worship“ and extravagance, pornographic and violent content, inappropriate cartoons that had erotic and violent content.

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  • A state-owned media outlet has also labeled esports and gaming as “opium for the mind” to children, forcing gaming companies like Tencent to scramble to introduce new measures to protect minors.

  • Tencent has since announced new measures after noting “relevant authorities” had requested greater protection of minors in gaming and for firms to carry out their “societal responsibility.“

  • The new restrictions, which will initially apply only to hit game Honor of Kings, will stop children under the ages of 12 from spending money on the game and further reduce the duration they can play each day from 1.5 hours to one hour normally, and from three hours to two hours on holidays.

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