They would be 300 employees in TikTok and its parent company ByteDance who would work for the Chinese state mediai, with fifteen of them still hired by a state publication in China. This is what emerges from an analysis of employees’ LinkedIn profiles prepared by Forbes.
300 TikTok employees worked for Chinese state media
According to Forbes reports, 23 of these employees hold a role as directors of one of ByteDance’s departments. They control departments such as advertising partnerships, public affairs, social responsibility, media cooperations.
Fifteen, on the other hand, are still working for companies such as Xinhua News Agency, China Radio International and China Central / China Global Television. Which are among the realities that the US State Department designates as “officials of a foreign government”.
And there are fifty profiles working for TikTok who have a background in the Chinese state media, including a content strategy manager who was chief correspondent for Xinhua News.
According to Forbes, therefore, the connections between the “propaganda arm of the Chinese government” and TikTok are “significant”. And the newspaper explains that although Chinese state outlets are very present on “platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, so far they have been pretty quiet on TikTok ”.
Forbes goes on to explain that although TikTok announced in March it would begin tagging state media (as other social media do), it would not label the major Chinese newspapers.
Forbes itself reports that Jennifer Banks, spokesperson for ByteDance, explains how “TikTok makes hiring choices based solely on the individual’s professional skills. For our business in the Chinese market, this includes people who have previously worked in the government or state media in China. Even outside of China, employees bring experience gained in governments, public affairs and media organizations of dozens of markets ”.
He also explained that the company does not allow employees to have two jobs, suggesting that it may be a mistake in reporting professional experiences on TikTok.
The Forbes article details the growing attention, especially in America, to the alleged ties between TikTok and the Chinese government. And she says she is worried about this presence of former government employees: career change is legitimate, but according to Forbes these numbers could cause concern for the US State Department.