Tencent’s messaging-app WeChat faces legal challenges over ‘Youth-Mode’

Chinese officials have filed civil legal action against Tencent over claims its messaging-app WeChat’s Youth Mode does not comply with laws protecting minors.

Youth Mode prevents younger users from accessing payments, playing certain games and finding nearby friends.

However, prosecutors have not specified exactly how the app is allegedly violating Chinese law.

Tencent said it would “investigate” the claim.

“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 posted on Weibo.

WeChat, known as Weixin in China, has about 1.26 billion monthly active users.

China’s tech giants are already facing heightened regulatory scrutiny over alleged monopolistic behavior as well as financial stability, data security and labor protection concerns.

The regulatory scrutiny has sparked a broad selloff in shares of companies including Tencent, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Didi Global Inc.

China’s minor protection law, a revised version of which came into effect in June, added rules aimed at protecting minors from internet addiction. That has stoked investors’ worries that the law will give regulators even more power to disrupt a rapidly growing sector.

According to the revised version play time is capped at 90 minutes on weekdays and three hours on weekends and holidays.