Tencent, Toutiao accuse 'black PR operatives' for attacks as tensions grow

Photo: tech.sina.com.cn

Tensions between China's tech giant Tencent and the country's largest news aggregator Jinri Toutiao (Today's Headlines) have recently grown amid claims that certain groups are conducting "black operations" against them on social media.

Both compaines said on Monday that they have submitted evidence to the police about these "illegal" activities.

In a statement released on its Weibo account, Tencent said it has encountered "constant, intensive and unconventional malicious attacks from 'black PR operatives', who are using unsubstantiated information and rumors to tarnish Tencent and the broader Internet industry," adding that "the company has reported some evidence of these 'black operations' to the police."

In a separate Weibo post, Tencent said "some individuals involved in the 'PR attack' have been detained, while other suspects have fled abroad."

An hour and a half later, Toutiao also released a statement on Tencent's news aggregator WeChat Official Accounts Platform, saying the company has "suffered large-scale and organized attacks from 'black PR operatives'," adding it has "reported the case to the police."

"From April 3 to June 14, over 12,000 Internet articles have been published on WeChat Official Accounts Platform, slandering and defaming Jinri Toutiao and its affiliated short video App Douyin (also known as Tik Tok overseas). After investigating, we identified companies that created and disseminated these articles," said the statement.

The battle between Tencent and Toutiao has intensified in recent months after they sued each other for unfair competition and defamation.

In early June, Tencent sued Toutiao for compensation of one yuan for allegedly defaming Tencent with negative news. Tencent alleged Toutiao had intentionally tweaked a state media report headline and sourced unfavorable items that seriously damaged its reputation.

In response, Toutiao sought compensation of 90 million yuan for allegedly spreading false and misleading information on its WeChat Official Accounts Platform.

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