On Friday, a former executive who was terminated from ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, levied a series of allegations against the tech giant.
Among the accusations made, it was claimed that ByteDance engaged in the act of content theft from rivals such as Instagram and Snapchat.
Additionally, the company was accused of functioning as a “propaganda tool” for the Chinese government, manipulating content to either suppress or promote material that aligns with the country’s interests.
Yintao Yu, who held the position of head of engineering for ByteDance’s U.S. operations from August 2017 to November 2018, recently initiated a lawsuit in the California Superior Court for San Francisco County.
In his legal action, filed earlier this month, Yu claims that he was wrongfully terminated from his position due to his role as a whistleblower.
According to Yu, he exposed what he perceived to be unethical and illegal practices within the company.
Mr. Yu’s lawsuit contains several noteworthy allegations, with one of the most remarkable being the existence of a specialized unit of Chinese Communist Party members within ByteDance’s Beijing offices, commonly known as the Committee.
According to the lawsuit, this Committee was responsible for monitoring the company’s applications and influencing the advancement of core Communist values.
As reported by the New York Times, the complaint states that the Committee possessed a “death switch” capable of completely disabling ByteDance’s Chinese apps.
Intriguingly, the lawsuit claims that the Committee maintained unrestricted access to all company data, including data stored within the United States.
According to Yu’s complaint, he asserts that the Chinese government closely monitored ByteDance’s operations from its headquarters in Beijing and offered directives on promoting “core communist values.”
Yu further claims that government officials possessed the authority to shut down the Chinese versions of ByteDance’s apps and had unrestricted access to all of the company’s data, including data stored in the United States.
In response to Yintao Yu’s allegations, a spokesperson for ByteDance provided a statement to The Hill.
The spokesperson stated that Yu’s employment with the company lasted for less than a year and was primarily focused on working with the app Flipagram, which was subsequently discontinued for business-related reasons.
The spokesperson further asserted that ByteDance intends to strongly contest what they perceive as unfounded claims and allegations presented in Yu’s complaint.