Science, Technology, and Social Media

TikTok Employees Raise Concern Over CCP Influence As China Execs Move In

Some employees at the popular social media platform TikTok are concerned about the influence the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has on the company as executives from its parent, ByteDance, take on new positions, according to The Wall Street Journal.

A number of high-level executives from ByteDance in China have taken on new roles at TikTok’s U.S. operation, with employees complaining internally that there may be greater CCP influence than what is being publicly disclosed, according to the WSJ. The China-based ByteDance is subject to CCP regulation and can be pressured by the government to hand over information that the company has collected, which has in the past raised concerns over whether American users of the app are having their data collected by the foreign government.

ByteDance first separated its U.S. social media operation in 2021, at which point TikTok employees claim to have gained more decision-making power independent of the parent company, according to the WSJ. This changed at the beginning of 2023 as new executives from ByteDance arrived at the company and started taking a greater role in decision-making, indicating a closer connection with the parent company and, in turn, greater Chinese influence.

The ByteDance executives have moved into roles at TikTok in its advertising, human resources, monetization and e-commerce departments, according to the WSJ. Some executives have brought entire teams from their Beijing headquarters.

A former executive for ByteDance claimed in a legal filing that a group of members within the CCP had special credentials that could grant access to U.S. user data from TikTok. The CCP could allegedly access network information, SIM card identification and IP addresses of users to track and identify them.

President Joe Biden previously gave an ultimatum to TikTok to divest from ByteDance or face a potential ban in the U.S. but has since engaged in negotiations with the two entities in order to avoid a ban. A proposal was submitted in August 2022 from Byte Dance to the U.S. detailing how it would relinquish control of TikTok’s U.S. operation to a three-person board chosen by the Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, but that has yet to be acted on.

TikTok and ByteDance did not immediately respond to a request to comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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Will Kessler

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