Business records reveal the Chinese Communist Party has retained a stake and a new board seat in TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, which in turn funds Facebook’s fact-checking partner ‘Lead Stories’.
A Reuters report describes how the Chinese technology firm sold a one percent stake to WangTouZhongWen (Beijing) Technology, owned by three state-run entities, on April 30th. “The deal also allowed the Chinese government to appoint a board director at Beijing ByteDance,” the outlet added.
The news will cause further consternation over the TikTok app and its data. Such threats – including to national security and data privacy – prompted the Trump administration to attempt to ban the platform from operating in the U.S. – an effort quashed by the Biden White House.
The new deal follows months of National Pulse reporting highlighting the company’s ties – via its personnel and global ambitions – to Beijing. The National Pulse has also reported on ByteDance’s funding of Facebook fact-checking partner Lead Stories – a relationship that outlet founder Alan Duke has insisted he is “very comfortable” with.
TikTok’s parent company employs former Chinese Communist Party officials, including individuals with military ties, to executive roles and grants party members preferential treatment in hiring processes. As a result, TikTok users have seen videos challenging the Chinese Communist Party routinely fall victim to censorship.
The ByteDance founder has also pledged to use his firm to “promote socialist core values” and devotion to the Chinese Communist Party in a 2018 letter unearthed by The National Pulse.
While apologizing for “failing to live up to the guidance and expectations of the authorities,” the former TikTok CEO, who has repeatedly insisted the app has no links to the Chinese Communist Party, admitted that TikTok’s parent company ByteDance has received “a lot of guidance and help” from “the authorities.”
Beyond counting financial support from Beijing, the founder also pledged to “strengthen party building” by “enhancing education of all the staff on the four consciousness, socialist core values, public opinion guidance, as well as laws and regulations” along with “further deepening cooperation with authoritative media, improving distribution of authoritative media content, and ensuring the effective dissemination of authoritative voices.”