Snippet: TikTok Spied on Forbes Journalists ☇

Shared on December 23, 2022

Emily Baker-White for Forbes:

According to materials reviewed by Forbes, ByteDance tracked multiple Forbes journalists as part of this covert surveillance campaign, which was designed to unearth the source of leaks inside the company following a drumbeat of stories exposing the company’s ongoing links to China. As a result of the investigation into the surveillance tactics, ByteDance fired Chris Lepitak, its chief internal auditor who led the team responsible for them. The China-based executive Song Ye, who Lepitak reported to and who reports directly to ByteDance CEO Rubo Liang, resigned. […]

Forbes first reported the surveillance tactics, which were overseen by a China-based team at ByteDance, in October. Asked for comment on that story, ByteDance and TikTok did not deny the surveillance, but took to Twitter after the story was published to say that “TikTok has never been used to ‘target’ any members of the U.S. government, activists, public figures or journalists,” and that “TikTok could not monitor U.S. users in the way the article suggested.” In the internal email, Liang acknowledged that TikTok had been used in exactly this way, as Forbes had reported.

I enjoy TikTok for the randomness of content and the really interesting things some creators have done. It scratches some brain itches much in the way that Vine did years ago. However, this is not a great a look and will further add fuel to the fire (deservedly so) that TikTok needs to be banned or sold to have domestic owners.

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