Another month, another TikTok scandal as the company is facing some of its most damning privacy allegations yet.
TikTok has a long history of privacy scandals. The company has been accused of potential keylogging, sending job applicant personal data to China, refusing to keep American user data out of China, violating child privacy, and much more.
The latest report from Forbes, however, may contain some of the most damaging accusations yet, with the outlet saying that TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, planned to use the social media app to surveil specific Americans. The effort was led by ByteDance’s Internal Audit and Risk Control department.
The material reviewed by Forbes indicates that ByteDance’s Internal Audit team was planning to use this location information to surveil individual American citizens, not to target ads or any of these other purposes. Forbes is not disclosing the nature and purpose of the planned surveillance referenced in the materials in order to protect sources. TikTok and ByteDance did not answer questions about whether Internal Audit has specifically targeted any members of the U.S. government, activists, public figures or journalists.
For its part, TikTok took to Twitter to deny the allegations.
Interestingly, Forbes article never mentions GPS tracking, making this a likely attempt by TikTok to throw readers off the real issue.
While TikTok may be denying Forbes’ report, the company has all but destroyed what little credibility it had left. This is the same company that testified to Congress that it had a dedicated US security team to handle American user data, only to be caught sending that data to China and then refusng to commit to keeping said data out of China.
For our part, we tend to believe Forbes over TikTok. By now, it should surprise absolutely no one that this is a company that will seemingly push the boundaries as much as it can, get away with everything it can, and only acknowledge any issue in the face of overwhelming evidence. Anyone who believes their data is safe with TikTok is deluding themselves at their own peril.