ChinaAugust 12 2022, 16:22 pm

Hundreds of TikTok/ByteDance Employees Connected to Chinese State Media, Report Reveals

US media is report­ing that hun­dreds of cur­rent employ­ees at Tik­Tok and its par­ent com­pa­ny ByteDance pre­vi­ous­ly worked for Chi­nese state media pub­li­ca­tions and that some of them still do. Accord­ing to an inves­ti­ga­tion by Forbes:

August 11, 2022 Three hun­dred cur­rent employ­ees at Tik­Tok and its par­ent com­pa­ny ByteDance pre­vi­ous­ly worked for Chi­nese state media pub­li­ca­tions, accord­ing to pub­lic employ­ee LinkedIn pro­files reviewed by Forbes.  Twen­ty-three of these pro­files appear to have been cre­at­ed by cur­rent ByteDance direc­tors, who man­age depart­ments over­see­ing con­tent part­ner­ships, pub­lic affairs, cor­po­rate social respon­si­bil­i­ty and “media coop­er­a­tion.” Fif­teen indi­cate that cur­rent ByteDance employ­ees are also con­cur­rent­ly employed by Chi­nese state media enti­ties, includ­ing Xin­hua News Agency, Chi­na Radio Inter­na­tion­al and Chi­na Cen­tral / Chi­na Glob­al Tele­vi­sion. […] Fifty of the pro­files rep­re­sent employ­ees that work for or on Tik­Tok, includ­ing a con­tent strat­e­gy man­ag­er who was for­mer­ly a Chief Cor­re­spon­dent for Xin­hua News.  The LinkedIn pro­files reviewed by Forbes reveal sig­nif­i­cant con­nec­tions between TikTok’s par­ent com­pa­ny, ByteDance, and the pro­pa­gan­da arm of the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment, which has been invest­ing heav­i­ly in using social media to ampli­fy dis­in­for­ma­tion that serves the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty. 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.

Read the rest here.

ByteDance is a Chi­nese multi­na­tion­al inter­net tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny that owns Tik­Tok, a social net­work­ing ser­vice that has gained sig­nif­i­cant pop­u­lar­i­ty among young peo­ple. The com­pa­ny has been crit­i­cized for cen­sor­ship of con­tent crit­i­cal of the Chi­nese Com­mu­nist Par­ty and accused of advanc­ing Chi­nese for­eign pol­i­cy aims abroad through the app. In July, Buzz Feed News report­ed that for­mer employ­ees of ByteDance claimed that the com­pa­ny instruct­ed its staff mem­bers to push pro-Chi­na mes­sages to Amer­i­cans in its now-defunct Eng­lish-lan­guage news app, Top­Buzz. Bloomberg recent­ly report­ed that a Chi­nese gov­ern­ment enti­ty respon­si­ble for pub­lic rela­tions attempt­ed to open a stealth account on Tik­Tok tar­get­ing West­ern audi­ences with propaganda.

A 2021 NATO study iden­ti­fied Chi­nese state media out­lets Xin­hua, Chi­na Radio, and Chi­na Cen­tral / Chi­na Glob­al Tele­vi­sion as China’s main proxy non-state influ­ence actors abroad. It con­clud­ed they could be con­sid­ered among part of the more wide-reach­ing unit­ed front net­work. In Feb­ru­ary 2020, the US des­ig­nat­ed China’s five fore­most news agen­cies — Xin­hua, CGTN, Chi­na Radio, Chi­na Dai­ly, and The People’s Dai­ly —as for­eign gov­ern­ment func­tionar­ies, sub­ject to sim­i­lar rules as diplo­mats sta­tioned in the Unit­ed States.

For more GIOR cov­er­age of Tik­Tok, go here.


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