Zalo will limit friend lists, message requests and other features for free users
Vietnamese instant messaging app Zalo would limit friend lists, message requests and other functionalities if users fail to pay monthly subscription fees starting this August.
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The new policy, announced in late June and supposedly entering effect Monday, would introduce several changes to accounts belonging to free users of the app. They cannot have more than 1,000 users on their contact list, cannot use usernames, can only respond to up to 40 strangers' messages a month and are limited to five quick messaging templates. If users outside of their contact list search for their phone numbers, their accounts would only show up about 40 times a month.
Previously, a free Zalo user could have up to 3,000 accounts on their friend list and there were no limitations regarding searches using phone numbers or responses to strangers' message requests.
Zalo has introduced three pricing packages to upgrade a free account to a Zalo Business account, ranging from VND84,000 ($3.60) to VND1.65 million a month. The highest priced Elite package would allow users to have up to 5,000 friends on their contact list, allow strangers to search for users' phone numbers up to 2,000 times a month, and allow users to respond to strangers' message requests up to 2,000 times a month, among other functionalities.
Zalo said the new pricing schemes would help users "manage their privacy rights better." But several users claim this is how Zalo directs users towards paid accounts under a monthly subscription model.
Some businesses say the new changes would interfere with their ability to operate.