A Forbes report shows that 300 employees of ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok, also work as journalists for official Chinese Communist Party (CCP) media, leaving the social network, which for years has been accused of being used for espionage purposes by the Chinese communist regime, in check.
The report reveals the connection between the 300 workers and even 50 TikTok employees and different media such as Xinhua, People’s Daily, official CCP representatives, and China Global Television (CGTN), the CCP’s state broadcaster.
The investigation reviewed the Linkedin profiles of TikTok employees, discovering the connection between jobs on the Chinese social network and news agencies that answer to the CCP. This infers the use of the entire CCP propaganda apparatus to manipulate information in its favor.
To date, ByteDance and TikTok have not denied the relationship of the 300 employees demonstrated through LinkedIn, nor did they deny their connections to Chinese state media.
TikTok has more than 1 billion users worldwide, and several countries have declared their concerns regarding the security of user data.
TikTok collects user data that the CCP has access to any time
In June, BuzzFeed reported through 80 leaked audio tapes from internal TikTok meetings that the CCP would be accessing U.S. user data from China at any time.
Through the recordings, 14 statements were obtained from 9 employees arguing that the CCP has had access to U.S. user data from at least September 2021 and January 2022, according to the obtained tapes.
The data collected could be used by the CCP as a means of espionage and to apply soft power. For this reason, Republican Senator Ted Cruz has called TikTok “a Trojan horse the Chinese Communist Party can use to influence what Americans see, hear, and ultimately think.”
Nine Republican senators also raised concerns about the security of U.S. citizens’ data in June. These accusations prompted the CEO of the communication platform, Chew Shou Zi, to report on the migration of user information to the servers of the U.S.-owned technology company Oracle Corp. to prevent the information from being transferred to China.
The UK Parliament, after receiving warnings from several MPs about security issues with the CCP’s social networking platform, decided to delete its TikTok account.
Some parliamentarians even wrote a letter to members of the chamber asking them to withdraw the account because of the lack of data security and because the data could be leaked and sent directly to China.
“We undertook all necessary steps to ensure none of our data is at risk,” states the letter written by several parliamentarians, who were sanctioned by the Chinese Communist Party.
Also, UK prime ministerial candidate Liz Truss said she would take action against Chinese companies like TikTok if elected leader.
On the other hand, Brendan Carr, a member of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, publicly requested in June that Apple and Google remove TikTok from their app stores on the grounds of security of U.S. citizens’ data.
In 2020, Trump had issued orders to ban WeChat and TikTok, for the security of the country, but Biden currently withdrew the executive orders.
TikTok, a channel used by the CCP for propaganda and misinformation
In July, four former TikTok employees claimed that the company placed pro-China content on its now-defunct U.S. news app, TopBuzz, and censored all negative stories and information about the CCP, BuzzFeed News reported.
Three of the social network’s former employees said TopBuzz promoted tourism to China and posted videos of Westerners explaining the benefits of moving their new company to China. The news appeared in view of users because it was pinned to the top of the app.
“Let’s be real, this was not something you could say no to. If they don’t do it, somebody’s going to jail,” said one of the former employees.
TikTok moderators were ordered to censor videos that could allegedly harm “national honor” or that of “state agencies such as the police” according to a March 2020 report.
With an army of moderators on its side, the CCP manages to hide all kinds of information that could cause any negative blowback, such as live broadcasts of natural disasters, rural poverty, and especially those that reveal or expose Chinese regime officials in a negative way.
On the other hand, many Chinese influencers who have many subscribers not only on TikTok but also on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook are known to be journalists for official CCP media. Vica Li explains that she wants to teach her fans about China and even promises to teach Chinese. “Through my lens, I will take you around China, take you into Vica’s life!” she says in a video.
But although she claims to be an ordinary Chinese citizen, Vica works for CGTN, the CCP’s official television network, where videos of her as a reporter are featured and at least nine people manage her page. These “influential” personalities have more than 10 million followers and subscribers. Amid her videos touring China, other CCP propaganda videos can be seen with interviews with people who speak of the wonders of the CCP or who argue that the CCP does not monitor them.
It is clear that all the cards are already on the table, the CCP can no longer hide the intentions of the famous Chinese social network that has entered every home in the world. Now it is up to each one of us whether or not we want to hand over our lives on a platter to the Chinese communists who operate TikTok.