A Chinese government public relations agency asked TikTok to set up an account that would target Westerners and improve China’s image but wasn’t overtly linked to the government, according to Bloomberg and based on an internal message provided to them.
In an email received in April 2020 by Elizabeth Kanter, the head of TikTok’s government relations department for the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Israel, a colleague remarked: “Chinese government entity that’s interested in joining TikTok but would not want to be openly seen as a government account as the main purpose is for promoting content that showcases the best side of China (some sort of propaganda).”
The source indicated that some of the highest level government relations team at TikTok’s parent company, Beijing-based ByteDance Inc., had discussed the matter internally, and decided to reject the request, describing it as “sensitive.” The incident also triggered internal discussions about other sensitive requests, the message noted, according to Bloomberg’s report.
TikTok is a short video sharing app with more than 1 billion active users worldwide, with the majority being young people. Despite its growing worldwide popularity, Tiktok constantly faces intense criticism from governments around the world.
A recent report shows that TikTok is excessively collecting personal data from its users and that the server of its operating system is connected to China.
Australian cyber security company Internet 2.0 released an investigation report on July 17, saying that by analyzing and testing the source code of TikTok’s apps on Android 25.1.3 and Apple iOS 25.1.1, it was found that TikTok not only retrieves all apps running on the phone, but all installed apps.
“In theory this information can provide a realistic diagram of your phone,” the report said.
TikTok checks the device location at least once an hour, and also gets access to the user’s contacts, and if the user refuses, it will keep asking until the user grants access.
TikTok has code that collects detailed information on Android, including wireless network user name, SIM card serial number, device voicemail number, GPS status…