Bloomberg: Chinese Government Agencies Request Invisible TikTok


What are the relationship between TikTok, the international version of Chinese Douyin, and the Chinese government? An "internal report" seen by US journalists showed that China's government department in charge of public relations tried to ask TikTok to allow it to open invisible accounts to engage in propaganda aimed at Western readers.

TikTok app on smartphone.
TikTok App On THE Smartphone.

The news comes from a report released by US financial media outlet Bloomberg on Friday (July 29). Bloomberg reported that "internal information" seen by Bloomberg reporters revealed the intention of Chinese government propaganda to use TikTok to amplify propaganda against the West.

TikTok is a short video-sharing app developed by Beijing-based technology company ByteDance. This application has become popular in many countries around the world and its main users are young people.

The information seen by Bloomberg is a message sent by China in April 2020 to Elizabeth Kanter, TikTok's head of government relations in the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Israel.

Interested In Setting Up An Account On TikTok

The report was that a Chinese government agency was interested in setting up an account on TikTok, but did not want people to discover the government identity of the account. That's what the data expressed "the public authority organization's basic role was to distribute promulgation materials that would show the best of China to the rest of the world."

The information shows that several top executives in ByteDance's government relations team discussed the matter and rejected the government agency's request, Bloomberg reported. Kantor and Erich Andersen, TikTok's global general counsel in the US, participated in the discussion.

A TikTok spokesperson downplayed the matter, calling it an informal request from a friend of one of the company's employees. Bloomberg quoted a spokesperson as saying that TikTok has regulations prohibiting "coordinated inauthentic behavior," meaning the company may not set up accounts that mask their true identity in order to expand influence, influence public opinion, or conduct political propaganda.

TikTok allows certain Chinese government offices, such as the Chinese Embassy in the United States, to set up verified TikTok accounts. A TikTok spokesperson said the company is preparing to relax its policy on official accounts, allowing other government departments to set up accounts "in the coming months" if those accounts are identified as official.

The concerns of users about the safety of using TikTok have not been interrupted for a long time. The Chinese government is suspected of using this software to collect user information from countries around the world. To allay user concerns, TikTok has repeatedly promised the American public that TikTok's overseas operations will remain independent of Chinese government influence.

TikTok US Users' in China, United States, And Singapore

TikTok also said that US users' data has always been stored outside of China, such as in overseas data centers in the United States and Singapore, and cannot be accessed by Chinese officials.

However, TikTok's data security concerns have plagued China's fast-growing social media company from time to time. Last month, US news website BuzzFeed revealed in a report that it had exclusive access to recordings of 80 internal TikTok US meetings.

The recordings show that several TikTok employees mentioned in more than a dozen statements that engineers in mainland China had access to TikTok data in the United States. The time span is from September 2021 to January 2022.

Several TikTok employees acknowledged that U.S. TikTok employees must ask China for guidance on how to handle U.S. data, and U.S. employees cannot independently control how to obtain that data.

On Thursday, the American non-profit organization Convention of States Action and the American election company Trafalgar Group published a joint survey. A survey found that nearly 60% of Americans support the removal of TikTok from the US app store. Opponents made up less than 20 percent of the survey.

British Foreign Secretary Truss

When Bloomberg published the official Chinese message, British Foreign Secretary Truss, in a debate with her prime ministerial rival Sunak, vowed to crack down on Chinese companies, including TikTok, and restrict access to them. Technology export.

Truss's remarks were criticized by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian. Zhao Lijian said at a customary public interview: "I might want to exhort individual legislators in the UK not to discuss China with no obvious end goal in mind and advance the 'China danger hypothesis. Such irresponsible remarks cannot solve their own domestic problems."

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