ByteDance ordered to suspend app in China as it let users browse content from Facebook and Twitter

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on April 25, 2020 Published on April 25, 2020

Chinese regulators have directed ByteDance Ltd. to temporarily suspend downloads of its office app Feishu after it had discovered that the app allowed users in China to discover content from banned sites such as Facebook and Twitter, according to a Bloomberg report.

The Cyberspace Administration of China ordered the TikTok parent company operator to take down its office collaboration app Feishu from major domestic app stores for a month.

The penalty was in light of the app’s newsfeed function which allowed users to browse content from platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

ByteDance had come under the scanner for Feishu’s newsfeed function which was part of its Workstation platform and had removed the function last month. However, it still faced a penalty as a result of the regulatory clampdown at a time when the app had garnered major popularity during the lockdown due to the coronavirus crisis in the country.

Feishu is a collaborative tool which is Slack, Skype and Google Docs all rolled into one. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd are ByteDance’s biggest competitors in the market offering similar apps. Alibaba’s DingTalk was the most downloaded free app on China’s iOS App Store during the lockdown, it said.

Feishu’s twin app for users outside China Lark, is operating as usual. The company had made the app available for free in India as well.

Lark includes tools such as Messenger, Online Docs and Sheets, Cloud Storage, Calendar, and Video Conferencing.

This penalty could prove to be an obstacle in ByteDance’s ambitions. The TikTok parent company has recently forayed into multiple areas including gaming and music streaming with the launch of apps like Resso to expand its portfolio.

It has rolled out a Feishu Lite version of the app without the Workstation platform as a workaround. Feishu Lite does have the most essential features of the tool including group chats, document management and video conferencing.

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Published on April 25, 2020
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