REPORT: TikTok’s Chinese Parent Company Planned To Track Location Of American Citizens

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Sarah Wilder Social Issues Reporter
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TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, reportedly planned to use the social media app to track the personal location of specific American citizens, Forbes reported.

In more than one case, the Internal Audit team at ByteDance reportedly planned to use data collected on the popular video app to track the location of an American citizen, according to the outlet. A TikTok spokesperson confirmed to Forbes that the company used location data to “among other things, help show relevant content and ads to users, comply with applicable laws, and detect and prevent fraud and inauthentic behavior.”

Documents reviewed by Forbes showed that the company was reportedly not simply using the location data for ad targeting. Data was generally used to collect information on individuals employed or formerly employed by ByteDance, but Forbes uncovered at least two cases in which the Internal Audit team reportedly “planned to collect” information on a U.S. citizen with no employment relationship to the company, according to the report. (RELATED: A Former Democrat Staffer Is Trying To Keep A Chinese Surveillance Company Off The Government’s Blacklist)

Forbes previously uncovered that 300 employees at ByteDance listed Chinese state media outlets in their employment history. These included 23 individuals responsible for “content partnerships, public affairs, corporate social responsibility and media cooperation” at TikTok.

In a statement to the Daily Caller, TikTok disputed Forbes’ report.

“Forbes declined to include our direct statement that disproves the feasibility of its core allegation: the TikTok app does not collect precise GPS location information from US users, meaning TikTok could not monitor US users in the way the article suggested,” the social platform wrote. “Furthermore, the company’s Internal Audit team has no role in TikTok product development and would not be able to create such functionality. TikTok has never been used to “target” any members of the U.S. government, activists, public figures or journalists, nor do we serve them a different content experience than other users.”

“Like any company, our Internal Audit team follows set processes to acquire the data and information they need to conduct their internal investigations. These investigations are conducted only to assess specific claims, not to undertake open-ended inquiries into users, as insinuated by Forbes. Any use of internal audit resources as alleged by Forbes would be grounds for immediate dismissal of company personnel.”

ByteDance did not respond to the Daily Caller’s request for comment.