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TikTok Drops Job Listings in Moscow After Free Beacon Report

Chinese president Xi Jinping and Russian president Vladimir Putin / Wikimedia Commons
• July 13, 2022 4:35 pm

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TikTok is no longer advertising for employees in Moscow, following a Washington Free Beacon report that the company was seeking hires in Russia a few months after announcing it had suspended operations in the country.

TikTok’s corporate website listed over a dozen job listings for staffers in Moscow—noting a preference for candidates who spoke Mandarin Chinese—but the posts disappeared shortly after the Free Beacon’s report in late June. The postings appeared to conflict with TikTok’s announcement last March that it would scale back its operations in Russia after President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The removal of the job postings comes as the social media company has faced criticism for promoting pro-Putin propaganda and reportedly allowing its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, to access private U.S. consumer data.

The company had advertised for numerous openings in Russia, including revenue planning managers, industry analysts, and monetization strategists. While TikTok often stresses its independence from its Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance, several of the Russian job ads request Mandarin Chinese speakers, with one stating that "fluency in Mandarin would be [a] distinct advantage" for candidates.

It's unclear if the posts were removed because the positions were filled. TikTok did not respond to a request for comment.

Many news outlets depicted Twitter’s suspension of business in Russia as part of a global corporate boycott campaign. But the company’s actions ended up aiding the Putin regime’s efforts to control information on the platform, according to a Washington Post report in June, by allowing state-run outlets to post propaganda while censoring outside information.

Last week, the leaders of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate concerns that TikTok "may be collecting biometric data such as faceprints and voiceprints" from its U.S. user base, and that this information could be accessed by the Chinese government.

In a letter to the FTC, the senators cited leaked audio recordings from TikTok meetings that revealed engineers at ByteDance were able to obtain U.S. user data, despite assurances from the social media company that these private records were inaccessible to China. The recordings were first reported by BuzzFeed last month.

"In light of this new report, we ask that your agency immediately initiate … [an] investigation on the basis of apparent deception by TikTok, and coordinate this work with any national security or counter-intelligence investigation that may be initiated by the U.S. Department of Justice," wrote Senate Select Committee on Intelligence chairman Mark Warner (D., Va.) and vice chairman Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) in the letter last week.

"TikTok’s Trust and Safety department was aware of these improper access practices and governance irregularities, which—according to internal recordings of TikTok deliberations—offered PRC-based employees unfettered access to user information, including birthdates, phone numbers, and device identification information."

Published under: Russia, TikTok