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April 13, 2023
TikTok has admitted that it used its own app to spy on reporters as part of an attempt to track down the journalists’ sources, according to the Guardian, who cited internal emails.
The reporters’ data was reported accessed by employees of ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company and was used to track the reporters’ location.
The TikTok employees looked at IP addresses of journalists who were using the TikTok app and tried to match the locations to employees suspected of leaking confidential information, the Guardian reported.
While the effort was unsuccessful, it allowed at least four members of staff to access the data. They have since been fired. The company’s chief internal auditor in charge of the operation has also been fired. His manager resigned.
TikTok has responded to the incident, putting the blame at the feet of “a few individuals.”
“The public trust that we have spent huge efforts building is going to be significantly undermined by the misconduct of a few individuals … I believe this situation will serve as a lesson to us all,” said ByteDance chief executive Rubo Liang.
The company also denied allegations of espionage, saying that the app “could not monitor US users” in the way that has been implied.
They also responded to news of several states banning the use of TikTok on state-owned devices, saying that they have never targeted “members of the US government, activists, public figures or journalists.” However the newly released documents appear to show that this claim is false.
One of the reporters who was targeted worked for The Financial Times, who said in a statement that TikTok had been caught “spying on reporters, interfering with their work” and “intimidating their sources.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: DOT.LA