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Myth vs Facts

ByteDance used TikTok data to surveil journalists and their precise locations.

A small group of ByteDance employees attempted to misuse their access to TikTok user data in an effort to identify employees who leaked confidential company information to journalists. The aim of those employees, all within the internal audit department, was to investigate whether other employees leaked confidential company information to reporters, and if so, to identify those employees. As part of that investigation, they engaged in a misguided effort to determine whether suspected employees had previously been in the same approximate location as the reporters believed to have received the leaked information. TikTok and ByteDance condemned this effort in the strongest possible terms. As a result, three employees’ employment has been terminated, and one employee has resigned. However, to characterise it as an effort to spy on or surveil journalists is inaccurate.