TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, has been accused of tracking and spying on US-based journalists such as the Financial Times and Forbes. This information is derived from internal research.
The Chinese company reportedly tracked the journalist’s IP address to see if he was near a TikTok employee suspected of leaking company information, according to The New York Times. ByteDance CEO Lubo Liang said in an email to employees that social trust had been undermined by “a few misbehaviors” and was “very disappointed.” there is,” he said.
TikTok general counsel Erich Andersen also reports that the company’s Internet Audit and Risk team has been reorganized to prevent similar incidents.
Recent Controversy Encourages US Lawmakers to Tighten TikTok’s Control
The TikTok investigation, conducted by an outside law firm, revealed that ByteDance tracked journalists from the Financial Times, Forbes, and BuzzFeed. ByteDance’s head of audit, Song Ye, has left the company as a result of the investigation, according to The Verge. Additionally, three of his employees were fired, including TikTok’s head of internal audit, Chris Lepitak.
Forbes reports that three of its journalists, Emily Baker-White, Katharine Schwab and Richard Nieva, are being tracked by TikTok. These people previously worked for BuzzFeed News. Forbes reported in October that TikTok was being used to track the location of certain US citizens. ByteDance initially denied the news, but the report called for it to launch an internal investigation to find the employee leaking the news to the media.
The Financial Times also said TikTok is tracking journalist Christina Criddle. The FT claims Criddle’s pursuit is likely due to her reports of her TikTok employees leaving their London office since earlier this year. These employers were reportedly forced to work 12-hour days or demoted after taking time off.
TikTok has taken several steps to gain the trust of US lawmakers, including working with Oracle to store US users’ data domestically. The FCC has even urged Google and Apple to remove the app from their stores. ByteDance has already claimed that TikTok is never used to target journalists, but new claims are undeniable.