How Toutiao is changing the way China reads

FinanceAsia continues its rundown of Asia's hottest start-ups with a look at a $20 billion unicorn that's little known outside China but has more than 600 million users at home.

Virtually unknown outside its home country, Chinese news aggregator Toutiao is a household name inside it. Used by 600 million Chinese citizens, with 120 million logging in every day covering almost the entire Chinese online population Toutiao from the outside doesn’t seem all that different from most other outlets. But what makes the five-year-old start-up stand out is its ability to customise news selection for users through applying big data and machine-learning technologies.

Unlike traditional news agencies even Facebook for that matter, Toutiao, which means headline in Chinese, does not employ web editors to prioritise news and layout its pages. News is customised and displayed based on interest and...

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