A former employee of Chinese company ByteDance, which owns TikTok’s short video service, who was fired in 2018, claimed in a lawsuit that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had its own office at the company with privileged access to all data, a backdoor channel that survived even after locating information from American users in the United States. In addition, according to him, the administration of TikTok actively practiced stealing content from other platforms, as well as cheating subscriptions and likes using bots in order to increase user engagement.
In a lawsuit filed in a California state court, Yintao “Roger” Yu said he was fired from his position as chief technical officer in the United States because he complained to his superiors about it “clearly illegal activity” companies. His superiors dismissed his concerns that ByteDance was stealing copyrighted content from other platforms, including Instagram.* and Snapchat, mass-produced fake accounts to defraud metrics, and helped the CCP distribute propaganda materials.
He claimed that the head of TikTok made a false testimony before the US Congress – according to the plaintiff, the CCP held “backdoor channel” on US user data. Allegedly, ByteDance employees were aware of the crucial role of the Beijing-controlled committee, whose members were not employees of the company. This committee retained access to all TikTok users’ data even after some engineers in China were stripped of control over the platform’s American users’ personal data. The company was managed “Culture of Lawlessness”aimed at growth at all costs, and all measures of this kind were justified and covered with euphemisms “entrepreneurship”.
Shortly after Yu joined ByteDance in 2017, he learned that the company had been operating a scheme for years to steal and profit from copyrighted material from others. Some programs registered non-existent users who liked real channels and subscribed, increasing the engagement rates potential investors were hoping for.
The plaintiff said he had repeatedly expressed concern about violations “Law and Ethics” company, and also shared them, including with the senior vice president who reported directly to the head of ByteDance, Yiming Zhang. However, the top manager denied these allegations and the company continued to work according to the old scheme. And to avenge his grievances, Yu believes Kelly Zhang (Yiming Zhang), who now holds the post of head of ByteDance China, might be able to.
California resident Yingtao “Roger” Yu joined ByteDance in 2017 with a guaranteed $600,000 payout for his Tank Exchange company’s intellectual property and a stock option that required him to work at ByteDance for two years. But in November 2018, he was allegedly fired for downsizing, without any notice being sent and the stock option not being granted.
As part of the lawsuit, Yoo is seeking an injunction from the San Francisco Supreme Court ordering ByteDance to stop copying other people’s social media content.
* It is included in the list of public associations and religious organizations for which the court made a final decision to dissolve or prohibit activities on the grounds provided for in Federal Law No. 114-FZ of July 25. 2002 “On Countering Extremist Activities”.