TikTok looks to add 10,000 jobs to U.S. operations amid ‘ties to Chinese Communists’

By Chris White
Daily Caller News Foundation

TikTok announced a plan Tuesday to create thousands of American jobs amid scrutiny from lawmakers who believe the company is linked to the Chinese Communist Party.

The company said it would add 10,000 jobs in the U.S. over the next three years, TikTok spokesman Josh Gartner said, according to an Axios report published Tuesday. TikTok has grown from just 500 employees in January to 1,400 people as of Tuesday, Axios reported.

“It’s supporting the tremendous growth in the country and follows our strategy of building out teams where we have users,” Gartner said.

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The app has been downloaded more than 2 billion times globally on the App Store and Google Play, according to Sensor Tower Store Intelligence, a firm that provides marketing advice for mobile apps. The app generated the most downloads for any app in one quarter, Sensor Tower reported in April.

Still, lawmakers have been suspicious of the upstart company.

Sen. Josh Hawley and other Republicans have scrutinized TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance. The Missouri Republican warned in a March press statement that ByteDance “includes Chinese Communist Party members in leadership.” He also suggested TikTok “admitted” to sending user data to China.

Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, a Democrat, asked the U.S. intelligence community to assess TikTok’s national security risks in October 2019, saying that such apps could be used to spy on U.S. citizens or become targets of foreign influence campaigns. Schumer and Hawley worry TikTok could be gathering user data and sending it to China.

Is TikTok tied to Chinese Communists?

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested during a July 7 Fox New interview that President Donald Trump is considering banning the app. Americans should download the app “only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party,” Pompeo said.

TikTok has tried several ways to reassure lawmakers who worry the application is inextricably linked to Beijing.

Stopped Using China-Based Moderators

TikTok announced in March that it would discontinue using China-based moderators to monitor overseas content, a move that would reportedly result in roughly 100 such moderators shifting to other positions within the company, The Wall Street Journal reported in March.

“We are working to find job options within the company for the China-based employees,” Gartner told The WSJ. Local teams will take over the role after the China-based moderators monitored content for some non-U.S. regions, he added.

TikTok Hires Political Operatives To Lobby Congress

The company has hired political operatives to lobby on TikTok’s behalf, including Michael Hacker, who worked as a senior adviser for Democratic House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina, CNBC reported July 10.

TikTok also hired Freddy Barnes, a former staffer for Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, according to Barnes’ LinkedIn page. Derrick Dockery, a former press assistant to former GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan, joined Barnes as one of the company’s lobbyist on governmental policy.

Launching Transparency Center

TikTok launched a so-called transparency center in Los Angeles where officials and experts can monitor the company from afar. The center is unlikely to contain offices where the company makes content review decisions, meaning experts will only get a glimpse into the moderation process, Axios reported in March.

Company officials also said the center is only the initial attempt to maintain transparency. “Later, we will expand the Center to include insight into our source code, and our efforts around data privacy and security,” the company said in a March statement

TikTok has dismissed any insinuation that it works on behalf of China.

“TikTok collects much less U.S. user information than many of the companies in our space and stores it in the U.S. and Singapore. We have not, and would not, give it to the Chinese government,” spokeswoman Ashley Nash-Hahn the DCNF.

This story originally was published by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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