Toutiao sues Zhihu for defamation

Jinri Toutiao has filed a lawsuit against Zhihu and Liu Yiming—the Zhihu user who posted an article on the Q&A site about how Toutiao is like a Trojan Horse virus—for infringement of reputation rights for RMB 1 million, according to Sina Tech (in Chinese).

The article (in Chinese), headlined “今日头条与木马” (Jinri Toutiao and the Trojan Horse), quickly went viral on China’s social media after Liu posted it on Zhihu back in March.

According to the People’s Court, Toutiao is asking Zhihu and Liu to issue apologies and demanding both to compensate the financial damages. The case has been accepted by the Haidian District People’s Court and is pending further legal proceedings.

The news report regarding Toutiao’s suit against Zhihu and Liu Yiming released by Haidian District People’s Court (Image Credit: Sina Tech)

Toutiao claims that Liu statements of blunt accusations such as “Jinri Toutiao is capable of stealing confidential documents on your phone” have no base. Liu also wrote: “Jinri Toutiao uses the kind of technology [targeted news push] to secretly do evil deeds,” and “Basically, all sorts of authority that a Trojan Horse dreams to get, as a news aggregator, Toutiao has it all.”

On April 18th, Liu publicly apologized on social media (in Chinese) that the accusations he made in the previous article were his “personal speculation” and exaggerated.

Beijing-based Jinri Toutiao is one of the stickiest content aggregation app in China. Toutiao platform currently has 120 million daily active users. Its popularity makes it top of the government’s watchlist. In April, it was suspended for three-weeks for letting inappropriate content run rampant on its platform.