TikTok is denying allegations from a report that a China-based team from parent company ByteDance planned to use the app to track the whereabouts of US citizens.

The social media giant announced on Twitter that it had never been used to “target” the US government, activists, public figures or journalists, according to the BBC. The firm also claims that it does not collect precise location data from US users. This was in response to a report published by Forbes that data had been accessed without users’ knowledge or consent.

The American business magazine, which cited the documents, reported that ByteDance had started a monitoring project to investigate misconduct by current and former employees. The publication revealed that the project, led by a Beijing-based team, allegedly planned to collect location data from a US citizen on at least two occasions. The report also revealed that it was unclear whether US citizens’ data was ever collected, but that there was a plan to obtain location data from US users’ devices.

TikTok denies allegations of so-called ‘spying’

In a series of responses on Twitter, TikTok’s communications team said the report had “neither rigor nor journalistic integrity.”

“Forbes chose not to include the part of our statement that disproved the feasibility of its core claim: TikTok does not collect precise GPS location information from US users, meaning that TikTok could not monitor US users in the manner suggested in article,” TokTok claims.

“We are confident in our sources and stand by our reporting,” Forbes responded to the BBC’s request.

TikTok is a controversial platform

In 2020, a US national security commission ordered ByteDance to sell TikTok’s US business over concerns that user data could be passed on to the Chinese government. TikTok said it moved US users’ information to Austin-based Oracle’s servers in June this year to resolve some regulatory issues.

Meanwhile, TikTok is facing a £27m fine in the UK for failing to protect the privacy of children using the platform. Last month, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office found that the video-sharing platform may have processed the data of 13-year-olds without proper consent. The watchdog said the breach took place over more than two years. Tiktok disputed the findings and said they were “provisional”.

TikTok is the fastest growing social media app in the world and has been downloaded over 3.9 billion times.

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