Hundreds of TikTok and ByteDance employees LinkedIn profile indicates the employees previously worked for Chinese state media. Around 300 employees across TikTok and ByteDance, including company directors and managers, had previously worked for Chinese government-controlled news media including Xinhua and China Radio International.
300 TikTok and ByteDance employees worked in Chinese state media
23 profiles appear to have been created by current ByteDance directors, who manage departments overseeing content partnerships, public affairs, corporate social responsibility and media cooperation. A content strategy manager at TikTok, was previously a chief correspondent for state controlled media Xinhua.
Analysis indicated 50 of the 300 employees currently working for TikTok
Some 50 of the 300 employees currently work on or for TikTok. The LinkedIn profiles of 15 current ByteDance employees indicated they were being simultaneously employed by the company and by Chinese state media.
The company’s hiring decisions were based purely on an individual’s professional capability to do the job. For our China-market businesses, that includes people who have previously worked in government or state media positions in China. ByteDance does not allow employees to hold second or part-time jobs, or any outside business activity, that would cause a conflict of interest.Jennifer Banks – ByteDance Spokesperson
TikTok has long faced scrutiny in the US over its links to Beijing
The LinkedIn profiles reviewed by Forbes reveal significant connections between TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, and the propaganda arm of the Chinese government, which has been investing heavily in using social media to amplify disinformation that serves the Chinese Communist Party. Chinese state media outlets have a large presence on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, but so far, they have been relatively quiet on TikTok.
ByteDance and TikTok did not contest that the 300 LinkedIn profiles represent current employees or deny their connections to Chinese state media. None of the state media outlets named in this story responded to a request for comment.