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Despite its popularity, TikTok‘s image is not well accepted by everyone due to the issues it got involved with, including being used by the Chinese government for its own agendas. Months ago, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance reportedly used its now-defunct news app TopBuzz to push pro-China messages. Then, recently, a report from BuzzFeed says TikTok employees repeatedly accessed the US user data from China. Now, a new report from Forbes suggests that some TikTok employees could possibly be working for the Chinese government, too.
The report from Forbes started after scanning the profile of individuals working for TikTok. According to Forbes, from these public profiles reviewed, 300 of them used to work for Chinese state media publications. Even more, 23 of the said profiles are owned by ByteDance directors responsible for “media cooperation,” says the report. Meanwhile, the profiles show 15 individuals simultaneously employed by the different Chinese state media entities appointed as “foreign government functionaries” by the State Department.
Despite the discoveries, ByteDance and TikTok didn’t deny the connections of the said individuals to Chinese state media. Nevertheless, ByteDance spokesperson Jennifer Banks told Forbes that “hiring decisions based purely on an individual’s professional capability to do the job.”
“For our China-market businesses, that includes people who have previously worked in government or state media positions in China,” Banks added. “Outside of China, employees also bring experience in government, public policy, and media organizations from dozens of markets.”
As for the 15 profiles showing simultaneously working both for TikTok and the Chinese government, Banks said that ByteDance “does not allow employees to hold second or part-time jobs, or any outside business activity, that would cause a conflict of interest.”