Curious case of Tencent and the obscenely-named website

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Qihoo chief executive Zhou Hongyi. Photo: Baidu

Tencent has a massive presence online in China, but it also has an aversion to criticism. For eight years, the internet giant tolerated the existence of “fuckqq.com,” which appealed to the internet community that hated the tech giant.

The rogue website is a rather indecent play on QQ, the messaging app and the forerunner of Tencent’s massive WeChat, the social media and mobile payment platform, which has more than 960 million users.

After a rather long, drawn battle, the offending site looks certain to disappear into cyberspace following a ruling by the Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre to transfer it to Tencent from Qihoo 360, an internet security firm known for its antivirus software. 

The decision appeared to bring to an end one of China’s longest-running online sagas. But there was a twist in the tale of a story that dates back to 2010 when Tencent and Qihoo were locked in a ‘war of words’ about unfair competition and privacy protection.

As a result, Tencent blocked the QQ app on computers using Qihoo 360 software.

In what was known as the 3Q war, a website of that name emerged which allowed users to automatically be redirected to the offending Qihoo site. In its heyday, the portal flourished.

By this time, China’s internet regulator had stepped in to mediate the dispute, with Qihoo CEO chief  Zhou Hongyi denying he was behind the online platform.

Then last year, Xu Xianbiao, a Chinese netizen who registered the fuckqq.com domain name, apologised on Weibo for creating the site. The move was seen as a bid to clear Zhou’s name.

In his postings, Xu admitted that he had owned the website and was now transferring it to Tencent. But he also thanked fans who sided with the “egg against the stone” in this online David and Goliath struggle.

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