by Ben Whedon
An internal investigation from TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, has confirmed that its employees used the social media app to track the physical locations of several journalists.
The investigation revealed that several employees had worked to uncover the source of internal leaks and in so doing had used the app to obtain the IP addresses and user data of journalists to determine their physical proximity to any ByteDance employees, according to Forbes.
“It is standard practice for companies to have an internal audit group authorized to investigate code of conduct violations,” TikTok General Counsel Erich Andersen wrote in an email Forbes obtained. “However, in this case individuals misused their authority to obtain access to TikTok user data.”
The investigation resulted in the termination of chief internal auditor Chris Lepitak, who managed the team that conducted the surveillance. His immediate superior, Song Ye, resigned.
TikTok is currently facing a prospective ban in the United States, with bipartisan lawmakers unveiling legislation this month to bar its operations outright. Moreover, Congress has since moved to bar use of the app on federal devices.
The company is currently scrambling to avoid its expulsion from the U.S. economy by negotiating a security arrangement with the U.S. government to address concerns over prospective Chinese access to American user data, though industry experts have warned that such an arrangement is unlikely to guarantee Americans’ privacy or national security.
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Ben Whedon is the night editor for the Just the News. He came to the company from Breitbart News and is a graduate of Washington and Lee University.
Photo “TikTok” by Solen Feyissa. CC BY-SA 2.0.