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Tencent says ‘loophole’ beat Google, Bing . Allowed searches on WeChat

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Tencent’s WeChat has fixed a glitch that allowed some of its content to become searchable by external search engines, the owner of China’s most popular messaging app said on Friday, as regulators crack down on the Internet sector. Questioning the latest effort.

Some of WeChat’s content, including articles on its public accounts page, was briefly searchable in the past few days on Alphabet-owned Google and Microsoft’s Bing, but not on China’s major search engine Baidu, Reuters checks. Found out from

The change had prompted speculation that Tencent was calling for its tech giant to tear down “walled gardens” in the country’s cyberspace by Chinese authorities, which comes amid widespread crackdowns in the region.

“Due to recent technological upgrades, there were flaws in the bot protocol of the official accounts, which caused external crawlers to scrape part of the content of the official accounts,” Tencent said in a statement in Chinese.

“The flaws have since been corrected.”

Google, Microsoft and Baidu did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Google is not available in China.

The ability to search WeChat content on Google and Bing was initially picked up by users on the developer forums. China’s Internet sector has been dominated by a handful of technology giants who have historically blocked links from rivals as well as their search crawlers, a practice often referred to as ‘walled gardens’. .

In recent months, the practice has been targeted by Chinese authorities as part of wider regulatory action.

Last month, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) ordered companies to stop blocking the link, which they said has affected the user experience and harmed consumer rights.

According to a person with direct knowledge, MIIT is also studying and researching plans to make WeChat content available on external search engines.

MIIT did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Some users on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform expressed disappointment over Tencent’s comments.

One user said, “This should be a significant effort to create an open internet space, how can you call it a bug.”

© Thomson Reuters 2021


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