It has often been alleged that Bytedance, the makers of the popular TikTok social media app, have a close relationship with the Chinese authorities as far as censorship of content on the platform is concerned. In a new twist in that supposed relationship, the Chinese government has apparently asked ByteDance to take down Feishu, a workplace messaging app, from the app stores in China. The reason is that it allows users to access content on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, both of which are officially banned in the country. Oh in case you didn’t realize, you may better know Feishu as Lark, in your part of the world, that is Japan and Singapore.
The Cyberspace Administration of China has reportedly asked ByteDance to take down the app, according to Bloomberg. They say this is a punishment for allowing access to content that is otherwise censored in China, as part of a newsfeed. This is a pretty big blow for ByteDance as Feishu was gaining popularity at a time when workplace apps are becoming even more relevant during remote working. Lark, or Feishu, offer features such as instant messaging with colleagues, the ability to do video meetings as well as collaborate on documents and projects.
This also puts ByteDance at a disadvantage against rivals Alibaba and Tencent, who also offer similar workplace apps. In fact, Tencent makes the super-app WeChat while Alibaba has DingTalk. ByteDance had removed the newsfeed feature last month. It was part of Feishu’s Workstation platform which is designed for businesses to keep tabs on payroll requirements such as paychecks to travel and leave request approvals. But that did not prevent the regulatory axe from falling on Feishu.