Tencent sues ByteDance for 1 yuan, seeks apology for defamation

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 June, 2018, 7:35pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2018, 6:01pm

Tencent Holdings is suing Beijing ByteDance Technology, the operator of popular news app Jinri Toutiao and short-video app Douyin, and an affiliated company for defamation, seeking a token compensation of one yuan (about 15 US cents).

The lawsuit, filed in the Haidian District People's Court of Beijing, accused the two plaintiffs of “widely distributing and disseminating expressions, articles and videos to defame Tencent since May 2018”, according to a statement from Tencent on Friday.

ByteDance did not immediately have a comment.

Internet giant Tencent, which runs WeChat and the world’s biggest video games business by revenue, said it has asked the court to order the two plaintiffs to issue public apologies on their news media platform.

Tencent said Toutiao had changed the headline of a commentary first published on Wednesday by XinhuaNet that made it seem like the essay had singled out Tencent when the essay also criticised other Chinese video games companies for inadequate measures to prevent gaming addiction among young people.
A statement from Toutiao on Thursday said it followed an earlier alert by another news app, Baidu News, which made the revision first.

Tencent said it will halt all existing partnerships with ByteDance and its affiliated company.

Last week, Douyin had said it was considering legal action against Tencent, accusing the latter of using “its dominant market position to eliminate competition”. That followed the blocking of some Douyin video content by Tencent Video, which said “the cover images may contain inappropriate information”.

Douyin said it did not understand why the content had been blocked and that it received the same message even after changing the cover images.