CCP-Linked TikTok’s Personnel Can Allegedly Access Politicians’ Private Networks: Report

by Jason Cohen


TikTok and its Beijing-based parent company ByteDance’s personnel can allegedly view the private connections of a vast array of politicians, Forbes reported on Wednesday.

TikTok has a social graph tool that reveals connections of individuals including members of President Joe Biden’s family, governors, senators and state attorneys general, Forbes reported. Other social media companies have access to similar data but TikTok has fewer barriers for employees to view it and more personal information available for them to draw from, according to individuals who have worked for multiple tech firms who spoke to Forbes.

Moreover, the tool grants access to connections of candidates for public office, political pundits, campaign accounts, journalists and CEOs, according to Forbes.

“There’s a real potential there for it to be misused in the hands of a country that is adverse to us, especially in times of conflict, so it’s clearly a national security issue,” Former National Security Agency General Counsel Glenn Gerstell told Forbes. “I could well see how such information could greatly facilitate the Chinese government’s efforts at disinformation, their efforts at bribery and blackmail, and their efforts at turning people into agents spying for China.”

Personnel who do not need access to the tool are able to use it, Forbes’ evaluation of the tool and related materials found. The tool enables employees to view an expansive list of users’ connections categorized by closeness, including TikTok accounts, phone contacts and Facebook friends.

“Most of the people that will use these things will be responsible, but there is a threat coming from inside the house, too,” former Facebook Director of Counterterrorism Brian Fishman told Forbes. Fishman also flagged the potential danger of intelligence operatives implanting themselves in the companies’ workforce to access their tools and data.

ByteDance has an internal Chinese Communist Party committee, and the U.S. Department of Justice found that it is a “mouthpiece” for the CCP. ByteDance staff previously used TikTok data to surveil American journalists who were covering the app in 2022, Forbes reported. Additionally, TikTok held American creators’ and businesses’ financial data such as Social Security numbers and tax IDs in China, according to records obtained by Forbes.

TikTok and ByteDance did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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Jason Cohen is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation. 




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