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TikTok owner ByteDance reportedly pushed pro-China messages in defunct news app

ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company located in China, used its now-defunct news app called TopBuzz to spread pro-China messages, in accordance with BuzzFeed News. Former employees who worked at the English-language news aggregator told the publication that ByteDance ordered workers to “pin” content that showed China in a confident light or content that promoted the united states to the very best of the app. These were even reportedly necessary to provide proof, such as for example screenshots of the live content, showing they had complied with the business’s orders. TopBuzz were able to reach 40 million monthly active users by 2018.

This content the former employees helped promote included panda videos, alongside videos endorsing happen to be China. A minumum of one staff member don’t forget pinning a video having a white man discussing the advantages of moving his startup to the united states. Among the former employees put it, this content ByteDance wanted them to market wasn’t anything overtly political and took more of a soft sell approach. However, they added: “Lets be real, this is not something you can say no to.”

Along with promoting pro-China content, former workers claimed that TopBuzz had an assessment system that could flag reports on the Chinese government for removal. They said the flagged content included coverage of Hong Kong protests, pieces that mention President Xi Jinping and also the ones that reference Winnie the Pooh. Some employees also said that content depicting openly LGBTQ+ individuals were removed sometimes.

A ByteDance spokesperson denied the former employees’ claims and called them “false and ridiculous.” In a statement delivered to BuzzFeed, they said:

“The declare that TopBuzz that was discontinued years back pinned pro-Chinese government content to the very best of the app or worked to market it really is false and ridiculous. TopBuzz had over two dozen top tier US and UK media publishing partners, including BuzzFeed, which clearly didn’t find anything of concern when performing homework.”

While TopBuzz was turn off back June 2020, TikTok is very much indeed alive and well. Authorities and critics have always been worried that ByteDance would use TikTok to spread pro-China propaganda in america, and we’re guessing these new claims will not be assuaging anybody’s fears. Another BuzzFeed News report published in June reveal how ByteDance employees in China had repeatedly accessed personal information on TikTok users in america. The business quickly migrated US user traffic to a fresh Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, but FCC commissioner Brendan Carr called on Apple and Google to ban the app “because of its pattern of surreptitious data practices” anyway.

CNN’s Brian Stelter previously asked TikTok’s head of public policy for the Americas, Michael Beckerman, on if the app could possibly be used to influence politics and culture in america. Beckerman replied that TikTok is “not the go-to place for politics” and that “the principal thing that folks are coming and using TikTok for is entertainment and joyful and fun content.” As BuzzFeed News notes, though, lots of teenagers now use TikTok as their primary way to obtain information, including politics and breaking news.

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