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ByteDance is reportedly under investigation for surveillance of US journalists

The company previously said it had fired four employees involved in the scheme.

The TikTok logo is displayed outside TikTok social media app company offices in Culver City, California, on March 16, 2023. - China urged the United States to stop "unreasonably suppressing" TikTok on March 16, 2023, after Washington gave the popular video-sharing app an ultimatum to part ways with its Chinese owners or face a nationwide ban. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)
PATRICK T. FALLON via Getty Images
Karissa Bell
Karissa Bell|@karissabe|March 16, 2023 6:42 PM

In December, ByteDance confirmed that it fired four employees who had used TikTok to spy on the locations of two journalists. Now, Forbes reports that the FBI and the Department of Justice have been investigating the incident.

News of the investigation comes at a moment when ByteDance is facing mounting pressure to sell its stake in TikTok. The company confirmed that US officials have said that TikTok will face a possible ban in the United States if ByteDance doesn’t separate itself from the video app.

TikTok critics in Congress have previously raised questions about the app’s surveillance tactics, particularly in light of ByteDance’s acknowledgement that employees had inappropriately accessed the data of US users.The full extent of law enforcement’s investigation into the incident is unclear but, according to Forbes, ByteDance has received subpoenas from the DoJ. The FBI has also conducted interviews related to the matter, though it’s not clear if the two are part of the same investigation.

"We have strongly condemned the actions of the individuals found to have been involved, and they are no longer employed at ByteDance,” a ByteDance spokesperson said in a statement. “Our internal investigation is still ongoing, and we will cooperate with any official investigations when brought to us."

ByteDance is reportedly under investigation for surveillance of US journalists