ByteDance hits back at Tencent with law suit for anti-competitive behaviour

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Beijing ByteDance Technology, the company behind popular Chinese news app Jinri Toutiao and short-video app Douyin, is suing Tencent Holdings for anti-competitive behaviour as the tech giant accuses it of defamation.

The ByteDance lawsuit was filed in the Haidian District People’s Court of Beijing on Friday, the same day Tencent filed a law suit accusing ByteDance of defamation. The ByteDance suit alleges that Tencent’s social platform QQ zone and its software Guanjia blocked Toutiao’s links, according to Chinese tech news website 36kr.

Beijing-based ByteDance is seeking a termination of the anti-competitive behaviour, a public apology and compensation of 90 million yuan (US$14 million).

The action by Tencent seeks a token compensation of one yuan (US 15 cents) from ByteDance for alleged defamation. The Tencent lawsuit, filed in the same court, accused Toutiao and Douyin of “widely distributing and disseminating expressions, articles and videos to defame Tencent since May 2018”, according to a Tencent statement issued Friday.

China’s short-video app Douyin accuses Tencent of being anti-competitive

Tencent, which operates 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 platforms.

Tencent said Toutiao had changed the headline of a commentary first published on Wednesday by XinhuaNet that made it seem like the commentary had singled out Tencent when it 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.

Additional reporting by Iris Deng and Meng Jing

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