ByteDance Stops Operation of Social Product Feiliao, and Merges Duoshan into Douyin

Chinese media outlet Tech Planet reported on Thursday that a ByteDance source said adjustments were made within the Feiliao (or Flipchat in English) product team last week with its employees moved into other internal positions. This change was regarded as a substantial dissolution of the product.

In addition, the Feiliao App no longer operates as usual and its home page shows that it is experiencing server problems. As a pathfinder for ByteDance in social interest, Feiliao seems to have officially come to an end.

In addition to Feiliao, Tech Planet also found that the new version of Duoshan App no longer supports users to use Duoshan accounts, and users have to combine their original Duoshan account with their Douyin account. If users choose not to merge accounts, they can only withdraw the balance in multi-flash and cancel the original Duoshan accounts. This means that Duoshan has officially ceased operation and has been merged into Douyin.

The above two adjustments suggest ByteDance is drawing a temporary end in its development of independent social media platforms.

Feiliao was a social media product launched by ByteDance in May 2019. The app was first released with which users could create or join different topic groups to attract other users with common hobbies and interests. In order to lower the threshold of social interaction, users who were unfamiliar with each other on the platform were able to send messages directly without needing to “friend” someone first.

In general, Feiliao social groups were similar to Douyin’s recommendation through algorithms. The app provided users with access to friends and topics that they were interested in. Feiliao only encouraged users to discover interesting people and content by themselves and never provided any guidance or leadership.

However, Feiliao has remained unupdated for more than a year. In July of this year, it was reported that Feiliao would restart operations and the audio social function was tested internally. Many ByteDance employees received invitations in the test phase. Tech Planet learned that the Feiliao team changed many times, and most team members were moved into other positions or quit the company.

Duoshan was created in 2019 and soon developed into an App with hundreds of millions of MAU with users attracted to the platform by ByteDance’s offer of red envelopes and Douyin’s support. At that time, socializing with short videos was a new form of commuication as users had previously only used pictures and texts. But there was a threshold to shooting short videos which meant users tried the novel experienceon Duoshan’s but subsequently received private messages from Douyin. Later, when Douyin opened up its own private messaging function, Duoshan was further weakened.

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Xu Luran, former product manager of the Duoshan team, left the team to go work on Douyin’s e-commerce service after which many Duoshan team members were merged into the Douyin team. Since the beginning of this year, Douyin has only reserved a few staff members for the day-to-day operations and maintenance of Duoshan. Ultimately, Duoshan will be completely merged into Douyin and cease to be its own app.