Over 100 million people use TikTok in the United States alone, and the app has been setting trends and pushing out many other social media apps, but now the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice are investigating alleged claims that TikTok’s owner ByteDance has reportedly been using its employees to spy on journalists in the U.S by having access to their location information and other private user data, in order to track down sources. BuzzFeed and the Financial Times were named as some of the publications.
A journalist named Cristina Criddle who worked for the Financial Times in the United Kingdom was reportedly under surveillance as she covered stories on TikTok’s London employees and their working conditions, including alleged sexual harassment.
TikTok has been accused of mishandling sexual harassment allegations against a senior manager in London. Inappropriate comments included asking for oral sex in an office, wanting to “rip” somebody’s clothes off and discussing “teabagging” openly. He denies all the claims 1/5
— Cristina Criddle (@CristinaCriddle) March 14, 2023
The Justice Department prosecutors in Washington and FBI officials are conducting the investigation per a law enforcement source. The news comes as President Biden has been in talks of banning the poplar app if its Chinese stakes are not sold. In response, ByteDance spokesperson spoke to NBC about the allegations adding that the alleged employees that were involved have been fired for their involvement.
“We have strongly condemned the actions of the individuals found to have been involved, and they are no longer employed at ByteDance. Our internal investigation is still ongoing, and we will cooperate with any official investigations when brought to us.”
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As we previously reported, Biden proposed a bill and 24 to 16 voted to approve the bill and give the power to the administration to ban the ByteDance-owned app. The app is amongst many other apps that the administration plans to put restrictions on due to security issues.
However, TikTok does not believe that a ban would be effective.
“If protecting national security is the objective, divestment doesn’t solve the problem: a change in ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access,” TikTok rep Maureen Shanahan said.
TikTok has been working on a deal with the U.S. government for two years on how to resolve the security issues and come to an agreement, However, there has been no word on a resolution yet.
BREAKING: The Justice Department and FBI are investigating TikTok over allegations that its employees spied on journalists.
— ALX (@alx) March 17, 2023
Originally published at hollywoodunlocked.com