Forbes reported that a team at TikTok’s parent company ByteDance in China planned to track the location of US citizens. In a series of tweets, TikTok denied the allegation, claiming that it does not collect the precise location data of US citizens.
Forbes said that its report was based on documents it had reviewed. It added that ByteDance had started a monitoring project to look into misconduct by former and current employees. The project, which was being run by a team in Beijing, could collect the location data of US users. Forbes said that it was not clear if the data was actually collected, though it could be seen.
On Twitter, TikTok’s communications team described Forbes’ report as lacking “both rigor and journalistic integrity.”
“Forbes chose not to include the portion of our statement that disproved the feasibility of its core allegation: TikTok does not collect precise GPS location information from US users, meaning TikTok could not monitor US users in the way the article suggested,” TikTok added.
Forbes told BBC, “We are confident in our sourcing, and we stand by our reporting.”
TikTok has raised privacy concerns since it became popular. Former President Donald Trump tried to get it banned in the US. In 2020, a US national security panel ordered ByteDance to sell the platforms to an American owner. Since then, TikTok migrated its US user data servers to Oracle but has not sold.