Jinri Toutiao, the popular news app, announced through its WeChat public account that it is filing a lawsuit against Chinese tech giant Baidu for unfair competition.

Toutiao said they have received reports from users saying that the top search result for  “Jinri Toutiao” on Baidu search was not an article published on the app, but an article published by Baijiahao (百家号), a content platform owned by Baidu. It was a month-old article published mid-December about the government criticism against Toutiao for spreading vulgar and low-quality web content and ordered the news app to make updates on a number of its popular sections. The “negative” new article was followed by a second article with an alert notice in red that reads: “Reminder: the service of this webpage is unstable, visitors may have trouble accessing the page.”

Screenshot showing the Baidu search result (l) and the security warning (r)

In response, Baidu clarified that its search results are in the order that corresponds to all sorts of factors such as relevancy, timing, user behavior and preference, rather than tempered search results targeted at Toutiao. It is not so surprising that the article appeared as a top result since it quickly attracted a lot of media attention when the news first broke, Baidu said in a statement (in Chinese).

The row between Baidu and Toutiao is not new, in fact, it was only a few days ago when Toutiao accused Baidu for allegedly forming an internal unit named “打头办” (roughly translated to “the fighting Toutiao office”), whose main objective is to use the company’s resources and connections against its news biggest rival.