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Tencent will inspect WeChat's 'youth mode' after prosecutors initiate lawsuit

Tencent will inspect WeChat's 'youth mode' after prosecutors initiate lawsuit

The WeChat app is seen on a smartphone. (File photo: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic)

BEIJING: Tencent said it would investigate the functions of its popular social messaging app WeChat's "youth mode", after Beijing prosecutors initiated a civil public-interest lawsuit against a subsidiary of the company on Friday (Aug 6).

Prosecutors had said the "youth mode" on WeChat does not comply with laws protecting minors.

"We will earnestly inspect and check the functions of WeChat Youth Mode, accept user suggestions humbly and sincerely respond to civil public interest litigation," the company WeChat team said in a post on Weibo.

The lawsuit was initiated by Beijing's Haidian District People’s Procuratorate against Shenzhen Tencent Computer Systems, according to a filing posted on JCRB.com, a website run by China's top prosecutor.

The document did not say how WeChat's "youth mode" broke Chinese law. It said it could support other agencies and organisations that intended to bring lawsuits against the Tencent unit and asked them to contact the prosecutor's office within 30 days.

WeChat's "youth mode", when turned on, limits young users' access to some games and functions, such as payments or finding nearby friends.

Chinese authorities have called for minors to be better protected from online dangers, a sentiment echoed by state media this week which criticised the video gaming industry as well as online platforms that help promote celebrity culture.

Tencent on Tuesday announced new curbs on minors' access to its flagship video game Honor of Kings, after its shares were battered by a state media article that described online games as "spiritual opium".

Reuters reported in April, citing people familiar with the matter, that China is preparing a substantial fine for Tencent as part of its sweeping antitrust clampdown on the country's Internet giants, but it is likely to be less than the record US$2.75 billion penalty imposed on Alibaba. 

Source: Reuters/dv

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