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TikTok fires back at Forbes denies report of a plan to track specific US citizens using its app

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Source: The Verge


TikTok is strongly pushing back against a Forbes report alleging that its parent company wanted to use the video app to “monitor the personal location of some specific American citizens.” In a series of tweets, TikTok accused Forbes of leaving off a vital part of its statement.

The article, posted earlier on Thursday, said that ByteDance’s Internal Audit team — usually tasked with keeping an eye on those who currently work for the company or who have worked for the company in the past — planned on surveilling at least two Americans who “had never had an employment relationship with the company.” Forbes says its report was based on materials it reviewed but did not include details about who was potentially going to be tracked or why ByteDance was planning on tracking them, claiming that doing so may put its sources at risk.

Screenshot of a thread from TikTokComms reading, in part: Forbes’ reporting about TikTok continues to lack both rigor and journalistic integrity. Specifically, Forbes chose not to include the portion of our statement that disproved the feasibility of its core allegation: TikTok does not collect precise GPS location information from US users, meaning TikTok could not monitor US users in the way the article suggested.


TikTok strongly denies the allegations


Forbes’ article says that TikTok and ByteDance didn’t answer questions about whether the internal audit team had ever targeted US politicians, activists, public figures, or journalists, and compared the alleged plan to Uber’s “greyball” program that targeted specific users, in some cases serving regulators a misleading version of the app.

In its thread, TikTok says the app has “never been used to ‘target’” anyone in those groups and that it doesn’t change the in-app experience for those people. (It’s worth noting that’s not an absolute denial of any consideration for specific targeting or that a request was ever made — TikTok’s only saying its app has not been used for that purpose.) The company says that the audit team “follows set policies and processes to acquire the information they need to conduct internal investigations.” It also claims that anyone caught doing what Forbes alleged in the article would be fired.


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