Former Bytedance Engineer Claims Company Stole User Content from Other Platforms

Former Bytedance Engineer Claims Company Stole User Content from Other Platforms

A former head of engineering at Bytedance in the United States has filed a complaint stating that the company discharged him after he raised concerns about the company taking user content from other platforms, such as Instagram and Snapchat. This comes at a time when Bytedance-owned app TikTok is facing increasing scrutiny and calls for a nationwide ban from some U.S. lawmakers over concerns about potential Chinese government influence.

The Complaint

Yintao “Roger” Yu, the former head of engineering, has claimed that Bytedance engaged in a “worldwide scheme to steal and profit from the content of others” without seeking permission. When Yu raised these concerns to higher management, he says they dismissed them and asked him to hide the program, particularly from employees in the United States who work under stricter IP laws and class actions. Yu was later dismissed in November 2018.

Yu has also alleged that Bytedance created fake users to exaggerate its metrics and served as a propaganda tool for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). He is seeking a court order to prohibit Bytedance from taking content from other social media platforms.

Bytedance’s Response

In response to Yu’s complaint, Bytedance has said that they plan to “vigorously oppose what we believe are baseless claims and allegations.” They also responded to the scraping allegations by stating that they obtained data in line with industry practice and their global policy.

This complaint is just the latest in a series of controversies surrounding TikTok and Bytedance. In April, Montana lawmakers passed a bill to ban TikTok from operating in the state, and in March, U.S. lawmakers questioned TikTok’s Chief Executive about potential Chinese influence and the app’s impact on children’s mental health. As the situation continues to unfold, it remains to be seen how Bytedance and TikTok will respond to these accusations and concerns.


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