Chinese social media giant Tencent Holdings has removed WeChat mini programs related to the OpenAI’s viral hit artificial intelligence bot ChatGPT, which is not officially available in the country, after local developers rushed to provide unauthorised access to the service. As of Friday, searches for “ChatGPT” no longer return any mini program results in the search bar of WeChat, China’s largest social network also known as Weixin. One particular mini program now displays a message saying it “has suspended service because the content did not fall within the scope of the platform’s open service”. Tencent did not provide any further comment. OpenAI’s latest chatbot is sending Chinese users into a frenzy OpenAI does not provide applications for its services, but its open application programming interface (API) has allowed for an ecosystem of third-party apps tapping into its AI to flourish. The official WeChat accounts of developers providing ChatGPT services remained available to users on Friday. The San Francisco-based research lab works on language models that produce human-like text and can answer a wide variety of questions from prompts for academic essays and fictional stories to computer code for specific tasks. An API for OpenAI’s GPT-3 model has been available to the public since 2020, but it was the recent release of the more dialogue-focused ChatGPT that turned the company’s tech into an internet sensation. Six days after its November 30 launch, ChatGPT already had 1 million users. OpenAI is not available in certain countries, however, China included. A foreign IP address, usually accessible with a virtual private network, and a foreign phone number are needed to sign up. Enough people on Chinese social media appeared to have worked around the limitations to spark heated discussions about the technology. Enthusiasm about ChatGPT also exploded among developers, who discussed further exploration of OpenAI’s technology and possible applications. In addition to WeChat mini programs, Chinese developers wrote their own tutorials, extensions and websites, making ChatGPT more easily accessible to other users in the country. Tencent Cloud’s developer community even published its own tutorial on WeChat describing how to build a ChatGPT mini program in just three hours. It covered the entire process from preparing the development environment to deployment. Mini programs must undergo a review that can take one to seven days before going live on WeChat, according to the article. Chatbot services have garnered interest before in China, but they have also tread lightly amid caution over the country’s strict censorship regime. Microsoft ’s Xiaoice , an “emotional computing framework” that the company hailed in 2014 as a “China-based chatbot phenomenon”, was pulled from Tencent’s QQ chat service in 2017 and from WeChat two years later after the system was found to be critical of the Chinese government in some user interactions. The team behind Xiaoice was spun off into an independent company, but the chatbot never regained its popularity.