There are around 80 million TikTok users in the U.S., and around 1 billion worldwide — and it isn’t allowed in China.
Instead, Chinese users have access to Douyin, which is the twin app of TikTok, both of which are owned by Chinese parent company ByteDance.
The Chinese state owns a stake in Douyin, which controls its domestic Chinese social media and information platforms.
ByteDance has over 300 employees who worked for Chinese state media publications, with some still serving in those roles, according to employee LinkedIn profiles reviewed by Forbes.
What Happened: Forbes said it scanned hundreds of ByteDance employee’s LinkedIn profiles, and found many have close connections between TikTok and China’s propaganda industry.
Here Are The Numbers:
23 profiles seem to be owned by ByteDance brass who manage entire departments that oversee several high-level verticals.
64 ByteDance employees are employed by the following Chinese state media agencies.
Xinhua News Agency
China Radio International
China Central/China Global Television
50 profiles show that they are employed at TikTok.
One of the 50 profiles was formerly a chief correspondent for Xinhua News.
24 TikTok and ByteDance employees formerly worked at People’s Daily, an outlet that has been deemed the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party.
Why It Matters: A spokesperson for ByteDance told Forbes the company makes “hiring decisions based purely on an individual’s professional capability to do the job. For [its] China-market businesses, that includes people who have previously worked in government or state media positions in China.”
Concern surrounding TikTok has risen in recent months due to reports about the app’s links to the Chinese government. TikTok said in July that China-based employees are able to access the data of U.S users through “approval protocols,” but it keeps the data separate from ByteDance.
According to Alibaba Group Holding Ltd - ADR BABA owned Chinese media outlet, South China Morning Post, the Forbes report renewed scrutiny of Chinese state influence over ByteDance.
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