CNBC published this piece about TikTok last Friday. They spoke to a number of US-based former employees who say there is really no clear dividing line between the company’s US organization and ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns it. That means that any and all personal data on the sites 92 million US users is searchable by the Chinese company.
The former employees who spoke to CNBC said the boundaries between TikTok and ByteDance were so blurry as to be almost non-existent.
Most notably, one employee said that ByteDance employees are able to access U.S. user data.This was highlighted in a situation where an American employee working on TikTok needed to get a list of global users, including Americans, who searched for or interacted with a specific type of content — that means users who searched for a specific term or hashtag or liked a particular category of videos. This employee had to reach out to a data team in China in order to access that information. The data the employee received included users’ specific IDs, and they could pull up whatever information TikTok had about those users. This type of situation was confirmed as a common occurrence by a second employee.