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Executive fired from TikTok’s parent company

AP – A former executive fired from TikTok’s parent company ByteDance made a raft of accusations against the tech giant, including that it stole content from competitors like Instagram and Snapchat, and served as a “propaganda tool”.

The allegations were made in a complaint on Friday by the Head of Engineering for ByteDance’s United States (US) Yintao Yu operations from August 2017 to November 2018, as part of a wrongful termination lawsuit filed earlier this month in San Francisco Superior Court, US.

Yu claims he was fired for disclosing “wrongful conduct” he saw at the company.

ByteDance did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The allegations come as TikTok – one of the most popular social media apps faces heighted scrutiny in Washington and some states.

TikTok maintains it never gave US user data to any government and wouldn’t do so if it was asked. In an effort to avoid a ban, it also wants to store US user data on servers operated by the software giant Oracle.

In another attention grabbing part of the lawsuit, Yu alleges he observed ByteDance promoting content that expressed hatred for Japan on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok.

Yu said ByteDance developed software that would scrape user content from competitors’ websites without permission.

He alleges the company would then repost the content on its own websites – including TikTok – to attract more engagement from users.

Yu said a fellow TikTok executive in charge of the video-sharing app’s algorithm waved off his concerns.

At some point, Yu said the company modified the program, but continued to scrape data from US users when they were abroad.

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