Facebook has a business arrangement with an app company that has connections with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the app is utilized to check facts, something very controversial in recent weeks.
Lead Stories is a company that has been contracted to Facebook as a fact-checker since February 2019, and it also works for TikTok, a company that permits users to share short videos among themselves through its app.
TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a tech company with its main base in Beijing, and has raised questions in the media about its connection to the CCP. ByteDance boasts 138 members on its communist committee, with 60 or more employees in managerial positions.
Company CEO,Zhang Yiming, has “publicly affirmed that ByteDance is a mouthpiece for the CCP in that it is committed to promoting the CCP’s agenda and messaging,” the U.S. Justice Department said in a filing earlier this year.
Founded in 2012, ByteDance’s current valuation is estimated at around $100 billion.
TikTok has been closely monitored in the United States due to security concerns that stem from ByteDance CCP connections.
Alan Duke, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Lead Stories, told Just the News it is, “not actually fact-checking for TikTok.” Instead, he insists, Lead Stories conducts “more of a consultation process where we help the company understand the misinformation that may be spreading on their platform.”
Duke said Lead Stories was contacted by TikTok in February and that it signed an initial short-term agreement in June. The arrangement is new enough, he said, that “we have not yet seen any revenues yet,” reported Just The News.
“Any new contract requires time to set up processes from scratch,” he said. “It takes time to hire staffers, etc. It also takes time to invoice and receive payment.”
Duke maintains that receipts from Lead Stories’s partnership with TikTok are “anticipated to be a low percentage of our total revenues,” and that the company would “post the amount on our website afterward just like we have for Facebook.”
When questioned about the close ties between TikTok and the CCP via ByteDance, Duke stated there is no conflict. “ByteDance does not give Lead Stories any guidance on what to fact check or what conclusions to reach,” he said. “Lead Stories has no association with the Chinese Communist Party. Any claim otherwise is itself disinformation.”
As of December, TikTok was still in negotiations with both potential corporate partners and the United States to avoid a ban or limitation on its services in this country, reported Just The News.
According to a Guardian report in September 2019, documents from TikTok have revealed staff was instructed to “censor videos that mention Tiananmen Square, Tibetan independence, or the banned religious group Falun Gong,” all human rights issues that China tries to deny.