The festive mood of patriotic Chinese netizens was too much for servers operated by the news service of Tencent Holdings, the country’s social media and gaming giant, after millions responded to a promotional campaign to add a national flag to their avatar to celebrate upcoming National Day.
Tencent News, the tech giant’s news site, launched a mini app on Tuesday that allowed users to add a national flag or “Happy National Day” stickers on their social media profile pictures ahead of the October 1 celebration to mark 70 years of the People’s Republic of China.
The campaign went viral on social media, attracting more than 200 million users by midday Tuesday, according to local media Beijing Youth Daily, which interviewed the project’s leader He Fan.
The server failed for a short time in the morning due to an unexpectedly large number of requests, according to the report. Tencent did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The response from patriotic Chinese netizens apparently caught the Chinese tech giant offguard. Tencent operates a wide range of the country’s most popular internet-based services, from online gaming and social networking to mobile payments, in addition to a growing portfolio of investments in companies involved in everything from meal deliveries to steel trading.
Some users who were not aware of the mini app even turned to WeChat, Tencent’s ubiquitous social and do-everything app with 1 billion users, asking the WeChat team directly to help them decorate their avatars with a national flag.
These requests, which went unresolved, later became a somewhat sarcastic meme as users started placing food orders with WeChat staff or even asking them for money. “WeChat national flag avatar” became one of the top trending topics on Chinese microblogging site Weibo on Tuesday.
Zuo Zuo, who works in the education industry in Beijing, was one of the users asking WeChat for help.
“I tried the links of the mini app my friends shared many times but none of them worked, so I just asked on [WeChat] Moments like many of my friends did,” she said, referring to the social media page within the super-app, similar to Facebook’s News Feed.
“The mini app finally worked around noon and I updated my profile picture with the flag decoration immediately.”
For more insights into China tech, sign up for our tech newsletters, subscribe to our Inside China Tech podcast, and download the comprehensive 2019 China Internet Report. Also roam China Tech City, an award-winning interactive digital map at our sister site Abacus.
More from South China Morning Post:
- China’s super-app WeChat now lets flyers pay offline on flights
- Dongfeng partners with Tencent and China Mobile to map out internet of cars services as 5G era beckons
- China says National Day military parade ‘won’t disappoint’ in scale or advanced weapons