The war of words is flaring up again between Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings and TikTok operator ByteDance after a Tencent executive compared short-video content on other platforms to “pig feed”, as competition in the sector continues to heat up. Sun Zhonghuai, Tencent’s vice-president, criticised short video platforms for pumping out vulgar and lowbrow content to users. “Personalised distribution of content is too powerful. If you like pig food, that’s all they’ll feed you,” Sun said at the China Internet Radio & Video Convention on Thursday. Sun did not mention any competitors by name. ByteDance – the operator of Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok and the country’s biggest short-video app – was quick to respond. Sun’s comment “stigmatised the short-video industry” and was “extremely arrogant and unfair”, the company said in an article posted on Tencent’s WeChat platform on Friday. ByteDance claimed that its Shenzhen-based rival has been moving aggressively into the short-video sector, accusing Tencent of anticompetitive behaviour by blocking links to ByteDance apps from opening directly within WeChat since March 2018. No nose picking or spanking: WeChat unveils long list of banned behaviour The company‘s post on Friday spanned 52 pages with images and links outlining a three-year period, through April 11 this year, of WeChat’s alleged misconduct. By Friday evening, the post had been removed from ByteDance’s official account. WeChat, China’s biggest social network with more than a billion users globally, has blocked links to six ByteDance apps, including video apps Douyin, Xigua and Huoshan, along with the work app Feishu, ByteDance claimed. “Anti-monopoly and the protection of innovation are very serious social issues, and at present they deserve more exploration and study from all parties,” ByteDance said. In response, Tencent prepared a 31-page document, also with screenshots and hyperlinks, containing alleged misconduct by ByteDance since the end of 2017. The allegations include breaking WeChat rules to collect user information such as profile pics and contact lists. Tencent also accused ByteDance of blocking links and content mentioning WeChat, QQ, and the short-video platform Weishi, according to the document circulated internally and seen by the South China Morning Post . Tencent has previously defended its policy of blocking links from certain apps, saying they violated community rules . Tencent has also said its rules do not just affect competitors, but its own investee companies. ByteDance’s post noted that WeChat has briefly blocked Tencent’s own Weishi and Tencent-backed Kuaishou, which was later allowed on WeChat. Short-video content is one of the fastest-growing types of online media in China, where nearly 900 million short-video users spent an average of two hours per day watching such content in 2020, according to data from the China Netcasting Services Association. ByteDance’s Douyin and Tencent-backed Kuaishou, with 600 million and 300 million daily active users respectively, are the two dominant players in the market. Tencent was late to short videos, but it has tried to catch up with different products. In addition to a US$2 billion investment in Kuaishou in 2019, Tencent relaunched Weishi in 2017 and a dozen other self-developed short-video apps in 2018. None of these apps managed to stand out in the crowded market. Tencent’s most successful effort so far is Channels, a short-video section within WeChat. Launched as a beta in January 2020, it had 200 million users by the end of last June. ByteDance sues Tencent over alleged monopolistic practices, escalating spat As competition has heated up between the two tech giants, their feud has grown more public. The CEOs of the two companies, Tencent’s Pony Ma and ByteDance’s Zhang Yiming, were even engaged in an online spat in 2018, when Zhang accused WeChat of link blocking and plagiarism. Ma called his competitor’s comments “slander”. The bickering later escalated into legal disputes. In 2018 Tencent filed a lawsuit accusing ByteDance of defamation, seeking a token compensation of one yuan. ByteDance hit back on the same day, suing Tencent for anticompetitive behaviour. Earlier this year, ByteDance again sued Tencent , alleging its rival was violating Chinese antitrust laws. ByteDance sought 90 million yuan (US$14 million) in compensation over the alleged blocking of links to its services in WeChat and QQ messenger, another Tencent chat app. Additional reporting by Jane Zhang .