Updated April 17th, 2024 at 23:14 IST

TikTok Allegedly Sent US Data to China, Claims Report

The Fortune report is based on interviews of 11 former TikTok employees between August 2022 and April 2023.

Reported by: Isha Bhandari
TikTok Allegedly Sent US Data to China, Claims Report | Image:Unsplash

A recent report by Fortune has uncovered shocking allegations against TikTok, claiming that the popular social media platform ordered its employees to send sensitive user data to its Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance. According to the report, which is based on interviews with 11 former TikTok employees spanning from August 2022 to April 2023, this data included names, emails, demographic information, and even location data.

Former employees revealed that TikTok had purportedly maintained a covert chain of command, concealing its close ties with ByteDance despite claiming to have severed most connections with its parent company starting in 2022. Evan Turner, a former senior data scientist, disclosed his involvement in a project tasked with sending US data to China, stating, “There were Americans that were working in upper management that were completely complicit in this.”


Turner explained that although there was an apparent initiative to keep US user data within the US, in reality, he was instructed to continue reporting to ByteDance executives in Beijing and to send data to them every 14 days. 

Nnete Matima, who worked in business development at both TikTok and ByteDance, expressed concerns about the lack of transparency regarding user data security, stating that Chinese-based ByteDance employees monitored conversations about US user data on an internal messaging system called Lark.


TikTok vehemently denies allegations 

In response to the Fortune report, TikTok vehemently denied the allegations, calling them "fabrications from disgruntled former employees." The company cited the establishment of a new division called US Data Security (USDS) in 2023 and emphasized its commitment to data protection. However, TikTok's response did not explicitly deny the claims of data sharing with ByteDance prior to 2023.


The revelation of these allegations raises significant concerns about the privacy and security of user data on TikTok, especially given its immense popularity among American users. 


Published April 17th, 2024 at 23:14 IST