A Forbes investigation revealed that hundreds of TikTok employees work or have worked in the past for China-controlled media
Hundreds of employees and executives of ByteDance , the company that owns TikTok, have had or still have a working relationship with the Chinese Communist Party-controlled media . This was revealed by a Forbes investigation that casts more than a few shadows on the links between the social network that is popular among the very young and the Government of China.
The media list includes Xinhua News Agency, China Radio International, and China Central / China Global Television. All organizations that the US government considers, formally or de facto, controlled by China.
The former men of Beijing today occupy some of the most important positions in the ByteDance organization chart: there are those in charge of drafting the site’s policies, or coordinating the app’s monetization strategy. Forbes mentions the case of a TikTok ‘content strategy manager’ with a past on china.org.cn and who today posts on LinkedIn against the “obsession” with human rights.
At least 15 people continue to work for China’s government media . Too bad that, as confirmed by a ByteDance spokesperson, in theory the company’s standard contracts do not allow it: “our employees cannot have other work commitments, especially if they can create conflicts of interest”. ByteDance has chosen not to respond to the Forbes investigation, hiding behind a ‘No comment’.
The transition from the world of media to that of social media is not exactly unusual, similar paths can also be found by sifting through the resumes of the many Facebook or Twitter employees. But one thing is the independent media of a Western state, another is the media controlled by an authoritarian government like that of Beijing. TikTok in the past had repeatedly had to defend itself against accusations of maintaining ambiguous relations with China, for example when the Trump administration was one step away from reserving ByteDance the same fate as Huawei. The White House had tried to force the Chinese giant to sell the Western division to an American company. In contention were Microsoft and Oracle. In the end, nothing came of it.