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ByteDance used TikTok to monitor Forbes' journalists


Article: Emily Baker-White @ Forbes

Forbes reported in October about how ByteDance and TikTok were surveilling "specific" American citizens. This was later extended and found to be including Forbes' journalists. Chief content officer at Forbes, Randall Lane, said that it was "a direct assault on the idea of a free press and its critical role in a functioning democracy." When Forbes reached out to ByteDance and TikTok, neither denied the surveillance, rather tweeting that the service couldn't be used to target anyone in the U.S. government, activists, public figures, or journalists. Quoting Baker-White: "In the internal email, Liang acknowledged that TikTok had been used in exactly this way, as Forbes had reported."

TikTok eventually responded with their chief executive Shou Zi Chew writing "We take data security incredibly seriously", emphasising Project Texas, a plan to limit China-based access to U.S. user data, as a testament to that commitment. FCC commissioner Brendan Carr called on Apple and Google back in June saying that "This should be the final nail in the coffin for the idea that U.S. officials can trust TikTok."

I'm a person with conflicting interests. I have friends who've since moved to mainland China and HKSAR, where our primary way of communicating is through WeChat, a service that was planned to be kicked out of the States. I'm more than aware that, just like them, if I say the wrong word it means it's time to take a break from the service, permanently. But, this is going a step in a poor direction that needs to be addressed. This isn't a matter of a private company targeting ads. This is a company not only aware of its ability but unwilling to make sure that data is kept secure.