On Thursday, Forbes reported that a China-based team for TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, planned to use TikTok to monitor the locations of specific U.S. citizens.
Forbes didn’t state what the Internal Audit and Risk Control department, the team behind the allegations, planned to do with the location information to protect their sources.
However, the article stated that the information was not collected for target ads or other similar purposes.
Forbes reported that this incident happened at least twice, and the targeted people never worked for ByteDance.
The Internal Audit and Risk Control department usually investigates potential misconduct by current or former ByteDance employees. The department reports to a Beijing-based executive, Song Ye. ByteDance co-founder and CEO Rubo Liang is Ye’s boss.
TikTok responded to the accusations in a statement to KTLA.
“Forbes declined to include our direct statement that disproves the feasibility of its core allegation: the TikTok app does not collect precise GPS location information from US users, meaning TikTok could not monitor US users in the way the article suggested,” a TikTok spokesperson said.
“Furthermore, the company’s Internal Audit team has no role in TikTok product development and would not be able to create such functionality.”
TikTok also responded to the article on Twitter.
This isn’t the first time the company has been spotlighted regarding its users’ data usage.
Buzzfeed News reported in June that engineers in China had access to U.S. data between September 2021 to January 2022.
Former President Donald Trump also threatened to ban the app if it didn’t acquire a U.S. buyer. In 2020, Microsoft announced plans to buy TikTok, but that never materialized.
Walmart and Oracle, a computer software company, announced plans to buy TikTok, but that deal never went through, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The issue has also come up in the Biden White House. President Joe Biden introduced new rules that would give the U.S. government more oversight over apps that could potentially turn into national security risks, like TikTok, the Washington Post reported.
Users can see these improvements through a custom “For You” page on the app’s home page or specialized ads.