Report: TikTok Insiders Say Communist China Still Controls Direction of Company
A recent report states that despite supposed efforts to distance itself from its communist China, TikTok insiders claim that the final say for the platform often comes from parent company ByteDance in Beijing. One former staffer reportedly told Business Insider that: “It’s that feeling a little bit in the US where you’re sort of helpless to a lot of the decisions that are made out of China.”
Business Insider reports that despite TikTok’s attempts to publicly distance itself from China following scrutiny over the company’s relations with the Chinese government, insiders state that much of the company’s direction still comes from ByteDance staff in Beijing.
TikTok Influencers film video (MIGUEL MEDINA /Getty)
ByteDance CEO Zhang Yiming (STR/Getty)
In an August 2020 lawsuit, TikTok stated: “TikTok is not and has never been offered in China,” arguing that it was unfair for the Trump administration to attempt to ban the app. In November, ByteDance reorganized into six different business units, making a clear distinction between TikTok and its Chinese products.
But according to six current and former TikTok employees, the firm was still largely under the influence of ByteDance’s Beijing headquarters. Four current and former staffers told Business Insider that discussions relating to TikTok’s products often require calls with employees at ByteDance’s China HQ and final product decisions are regularly made in Beijing.
An anonymous former staffer stated: “It’s that feeling a little bit in the US where you’re sort of helpless to a lot of the decisions that are made out of China.”
TikTok’s employees refer to the ByteDance Beijing office and its staff as “HQ” according to five of the current and former staffers. “Even our internal ticketing system will reroute questions to HQ, eliciting the response, ‘Oh no, it went to HQ,'” said one current staffer.
TikTok staffers are often asked to join calls at late hours to accommodate the different time zones between their country and Beijing. “Any time you have a meeting with HQ in Beijing, you were to work on their hours,” a second former employee said.
“It’s not like the company says you have to attend these meetings all the time, but the reality is, if you’re in a global role and you’re not attending these meetings, then you’re just not going to get a seat at the table,” the first former employee said.
Read more at Business Insider here.