Over 300 employees at TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, previously worked for Communist Chinese state media publications, according to a new report.
At least “[t]hree hundred current employees at TikTok and its parent company ByteDance previously worked for Chinese state media publications,” according to LinkedIn profiles reviewed by Forbes. The exposé further deepened the already shady connections between the Chinese Communist Party and TikTok.
A ByteDance spokesperson told MRC Business that the Forbes report was "inaccurate” and “draws from outdated online profiles of people who never worked for state media, no longer work for our company, or work on China businesses only. Our conflict of interest policy does not allow employees to concurrently hold positions at China state media organizations.”
But that statement appears to contradict a search by MRC Business that uncovered at least seven individuals on LinkedIn that claim to be current employees of ByteDance or TikTok while also claiming to have previously worked at Chinese state media outlets or companies.
“Chinese state media outlets have a large presence on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, but so far, they have been relatively quiet on TikTok,” Forbes reporter Emily Baker-White wrote. But Chinese state media influence on TikTok only seems to be growing.
And with that growth seems to come a penchant for increasingly authoritarian action. TikTok has repeatedly banned, censored and removed MRCTV videos posted to the platform. TikTok permanently banned MRCTV on May 26.
This is after a Chinese government public relations entity reportedly tried to open a “stealth” TikTok account in 2020 to influence Western audiences.
While TikTok vowed in March to apply “labels to content from some state-controlled media accounts,” that policy does not seem to apply to many of the largest Chinese state media sources.
A search of TikTok shows that the China Global Television Network, for example, does not appear to have a warning label indicating it is a China state-affiliated media outlet.
Reuters revealed in August 2021 that the Chinese government took a major stake and board seat in ByteDance, the multinational internet tech company in charge of TikTok and located in Beijing.
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