ByteDance has laid off four employees who traced i data of different TikTok users in the United States, including some American journalists. It seems they wanted to trace inside company sources who spoke to the US press.
TikTok, employees who tracked American journalists fired
According to the New York Times, ByteDance hired an external investigative firm to track down two employees in the United States and two in China (where the company is based). They were monitoring the IP address and other data from journalists’ TikTok accounts BuzzFeed News e del Financial Times, as well as several people connected to them. Also Forbes reports the tracking of three of his employees, who previously worked at BuzzFeed. All three newspapers had published information on TikTok and on alleged relations with the Chinese government.
In a statement to Variety, ByteDance explains: “The misconduct of those people, who no longer work for ByteDance, was a blatant abuse of their authority to gain access to user data. This behavior is unacceptable, and offline in our efforts to earn the trust of TikTok users. We take data security incredibly seriously, and will continue to improve our access protocols, which have significantly improved and strengthened since this incident.”
Forbes reported this illegal tracking in October, which ByteDance denied at the time. However following the investigation the company has recognized the violation of privacy. With this declaration, which comes just as several institutions ban social media in the United States.
Growing distrust of the USA
In the budget law just approved in the Senate, there is a provision that includes a ban on installing TikTok on federal government devices. Excluding elected officials and law enforcement officers.
A symptom of a dispute between the United States and the Chinese social network, which is making decisions to reassure American officials. Like using only Oracle servers in the US for US user data. But in the USA it seems to be growing government distrust of TikTok and ByteDance.