China sues Tencent over WeChat’s ‘youth mode’

WeChat may be a staple of Chinese digital life, but that isn’t stopping the country’s government from clamping down on the messaging giant’s behavior. Reuters reports that Beijing prosecutors have sued Tencent over claims We Chat’s restricted “youth mode” violates laws protecting children. The lawsuit didn’t explain how the mode allegedly violated the law.

Youth mode prevents younger users from accessing payments, finding nearby friends and playing certain games. It’s effectively a parental control tool for a “super app” that can handle many daily tasks in China.

Tencent hasn’t commented on the lawsuit. It recently set stricter limits for young Honor of Kings players, capping their play time to just an hour a day on weekdays.

The suit might be part of a broader crackdown. China’s state media blasted the game industry and online platforms just this week, and officials have previously demanded better protections against online threats to kids. The country has also focused much of its recent attention on reining in tech giants like Tencent, Alibaba and Didi, slapping them with antitrust fines and temporary app bans — the suit may be an extension of that effort.

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