14th June 2024

TikTok continues to be combating to stay operational in the US, however a brand new lawsuit may complicate issues even additional for the corporate. A former ByteDance government has alleged TikTok’s proprietor used bots and stolen content material to inflate the app’s engagement.

The lawsuit, filed by former head of engineering Yintao Yu and reported by The New York Instances, claims that ByteDance wrongly fired Yu after he pushed again on firm practices like stealing different apps’ materials. It additionally claims that ByteDance acted as a “helpful propaganda software for the Chinese language Communist Social gathering,” and that China-based staff may entry US customers’ knowledge.

As The New York Instances factors out, Yu’s allegations “describe how ByteDance operated 5 years in the past” and are available after “a number of years of mediation.” Nonetheless, the claims are nonetheless prone to gasoline much more scrutiny for TikTok, which is dealing with the prospect of a nationwide ban in the US. Lawmakers and different officers have claimed that TikTok is a nationwide safety menace and that the app can’t be trusted to guard the info of US customers.

Yu’s allegations may intensify these issues. The lawsuit particulars “a particular unit of Chinese language Communist Social gathering members” at ByteDance workplaces in Beijing who “guided how the corporate superior core Communist values.” He additionally alleges that ByteDance staff manipulated Douyin, the Chinese language model of TikTok, to suppress content material about protests in Hong Kong and “elevate content material that expressed hatred for Japan.”

A few of Yu’s claims additionally relate on to TikTok. Notably, he claims that ByteDance engineers stole widespread content material from apps like Instagram and Snapchat and put the movies onto TikTok. He additionally alleges that the corporate used bot accounts to juice the app’s engagement metrics when it was simply beginning out and making an attempt to achieve a foothold within the US. (Yu left the corporate in November 2018, shortly after ByteDance rebranded Musical.ly as TikTok.)

Spokespeople for ByteDance and TikTok didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark. However TikTok has repeatedly tried to downplay its ties to ByteDance and China, together with in CEO Shou Zi Chew’s congressional testimony in March. The corporate has additionally devoted greater than a billion {dollars} into Mission Texas, which goals to wall off TikTok’s US consumer knowledge from the remainder of ByteDance in an effort to allay the issues of US regulators.

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