ByteDance: TikTok spied on journalists investigating the social network | Technique

A user of the TikTok application watched Rosalía's concert on the social network
A user of the TikTok application watched Rosalía’s concert on the social networkGianluca Batista

ByteDance, the Chinese tech giant that owns the popular social network TikTok, admitted Thursday that several employees of the social network spied on journalists from the magazine. Forbes what They were investigating the connection of the American arm of the company to China. The information was disclosed in October, but was confirmed this morning by a specialist business publication, which has gained access to an internal investigation of the company. Forbes After the scandal, he says, ByteDance fired its internal auditor and two other workers on his team.

The internal investigation became known at ByteDance as Project Raven. This began after Buzzfeed News published a series of reports that several TikTok employees had access to the private information of several users in the US. The company did not deny the facts, but said in a statement that TikTok was not intended to spy on members of the government, activists, public figures, or journalists.

This was not true as the internal investigation now reveals. Journalists Emily Baker White, Kathryn Schwab, and Richard Neva, who first worked at Buzzfeed and now work for ForbesThey were spied on. However, the company document does not identify the reporters and only acknowledges that its employees obtained information “from a former reporter from BuzzFeed and journalist from financial timesthrough their social networking accounts, as well as a “small group linked to journalists.”

The reporters were part of a research team that documented the social network’s explosive growth in the US thanks to app downloads among Generation Z. Among the conclusions of their work is that TikTok has employed more than 300 Chinese employees. government media propaganda experts; that they engaged in industrial espionage practices and that daily strategy on American soil was still dictated by Beijing, causing an exodus of executives and great frustration.

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to me Forbes, an espionage plot aimed at finding the sources that were feeding the reporting chain. After the spying became known, ByteDance fired Chris Lipitac, who was tasked with conducting internal audits within the company. His supervisor, Song Yi, who had been reporting directly to the ByteDance CEO, also resigned after the scandal broke. The company also dismissed two other employees, one in the United States and the other in China, after the results were announced.

Confirmation of the journalists’ spying comes at a time of tension between US authorities and TikTok. Several senators, including Democrat Mark Warner, have increased pressure on the Justice Department to announce a plan to protect the data of the app’s users. If that does not arrive soon, the lawmaker warned, Congress will fill the void by voting on a series of safeguards.

Some EU countries have begun to take action on their own to prevent user data from getting into Chinese hands. No less than 14 entities have blocked TikTok downloads on official phones. That same ban could come soon to federal government officials, once a rule supported by both Democrats and Republicans is voted on on Capitol Hill that regulates access to the video platform for bureaucrats. The Indiana government sued the company for security flaws, misleading ads, and endangering underage users, who may be exposed to adult content.

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