TikTok Employees Admit to Using the Popular Social Media App to Spy on Journalists

TikTok won't be banned in November after ruling.

Bytedance, the parent company of TikTok, has confirmed that its employees have been using the popular social media platform to spy on journalists.

According to a recent Forbes report, the global media company had been investigating TikTok’s links to China. To determine the source of these leaks, Bytedance’s China-based employees had been using the app to monitor the location of Forbes journalists Emily Baker-White, Katharine Schwab and Richard Niev, who previously worked at BuzzFeed.

The media outlet had first reported about Bytedance and its connections to Chinese state media earlier this year. Furthermore, another Forbes report featured details about Bytedance employees using the app to track the locations of specific American citizens with their IP addresses.

TikTok confirms its attempts to track the locations of journalists using the app.

Upon request for a comment on Bytedance’s maneuvers when it comes to spying, the Chinese company had first denied these allegations. However, in an internal email shared with Forbes, ByteDance CEO Rubo Liang confirmed them to be true.

Following an investigation on the matter, the Chinese company fired chief internal auditor Chris Lepitak, who overlooked the operation alongside Chinese executive Song Ye.

In an internal email, Liang expressed his disappointment over the situation, as it will heavily affect the company’s reputation. “The public trust that we have spent huge efforts building is going to be significantly undermined by the misconduct of a few individuals. … I believe this situation will serve as a lesson to us all,” he said.

Following these recent revelations, the push for the platform to banned on government-owned devices will intensify, as lawmakers in the United States feel threatened by its links to China.

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