Tencent new rules forbid H5 games and interactive campaigns on WeChat

Early this week, WeChat team made an eye-catching move.

They rolled out a stringent new set of rules to evaluate any shared content on WeChat, especially regulating links taking users outside of Tencent servers (self-hosted H5). Breaking those rules could result in punishments ranging from an IP block on the illicit content to a permanent ban of your account.

As WeChat users, we could consider ourselves happy with these rules meant to keep brands away from us. However, they could become a huge hassle for WeChat marketers.

What are the new rules?

1. No incentives can be given for follow or share

According to the rules, any postings that make people share or follow you (anyone else), or tend to entice them to do so by offering some kind of rewordings or incentives (like lucky money, etc.) are disallowed and illegal.

This is an old rule, but its scope is going to expand: it is now for instance forbidden to ask an user to follow an account in order to receive a discount code, or get an answer to a quiz. Actually, it is simply forbidden to include any wording asking users to share your message.

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Tencent explicitly forbidden the use of “exaggerated wording” when asking people to share such as: “If you don’t share, you’re not a true Chinese” or “Share and your can live happily forever after”, and etc.

2. No more dirty jokes or misleading information

You could be in serious troubles if you consciously or unconsciously trick your followers with misleading and clickbait headlines, fraudulent content and eye-catching rumors, anything that is either misleadingly enticing or totally made-up.

This rule forbidding to “deceive users” also includes H5 pages which are trying to “mimic” the design of a native WeChat message.

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Company also shouldn’t incentivize users to participate in a campaign by claiming to give fake red envelops, cell phone data plan credit, or fake coupons.

3. Data collection restrictions

It is now forbidden to collect data unless:

  1. Company explicitly state what the data will be used for.
  2. User consent the collection of data.

For instance, it is forbidden to ask users to enter their phone number or birthdate in order to access some content if the company does not list a disclaimer about use of data.

4. Last but but not lest, company no longer use H5 games or personality quiz to engage users (except for games that are developed and promoted officially by WeChat)

This rule might sound as the most shocking, as it forbids any kind of non-official H5 games on WeChat. This includes actual games, but also quizzes. Example listed by Tencent includes: personality quiz, share your phone to get a your fortune telling of the day, ask a friend to answer quiz questions and Candy Crush like games.

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So what?

Actually, these rules are not brand-new… they have been part of WeChat terms of use for a quite long time and were just picked out and stressed this time.

But it means a lot, to some extent. It means that Tencent might start enforcing them more strictly, and it is this enforcement which might have a strong effect on us marketers.

Why did WeChat make this move?

WeChat stated these new rules were part of their effort to “always acting on behalf of our users and trying to maintain the ecosystem of WeChat”.

It is true that, over its history, WeChat tended to favor user experience, and not necessarily give a lot of access to brands. But it is difficult not too link this new release with the tightening legal requirements in terms of online content in China.

What would Morpheus say about it?

Morpheus has said it all: some rules can be bent, others can be broken.

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And sure enough, some brands will start breaking the rules, and we’ll see which ones can be bent, which ones can be broken, and which ones will just get your WeChat account deleted.

Our advice: wait and see. One thing is for sure: WalktheChat will keep you updated about it!

Click here to read the official Tencent regulation (in Chinese).

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