In the recent news, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance allegedly made fake accounts with content taken from Instagram, Snapchat, and other social media platforms, according to reports. According to a popular news outlet, ByteDance then posted those fake accounts on the popular mobile app Flipagram to grow further. “The China-based company scraped public accounts and then duplicated them on Flipagram, a predecessor to TikTok, according to four former employees and documents viewed by BuzzFeed News,” the report said late on Monday.
ByteDance Allegedly Took Videos, Usernames, and Pictures from Other Social Media Platforms
Flipagram was established in 2013 which enabled users to create and share short videos as something of a TikTok precursor. TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance allegedly took videos, usernames, pictures, and more from the social media platforms and uploaded them to the app without users’ approval or knowledge. Internal records indicate that the scraping was viewed as a “growth hack” for the firm.
Furthermore, according to a former employee, the team’s goal was to “scrape more than 10,000 videos a day in the highest priority countries”. The scraped content was employed to train ByteDance’s powerful “For You” personalization algorithm on the US-based content. “Today, the ‘For You’ algorithm powers both TikTok and its Chinese equivalent, Douyin,” the report noted. The report further stated that TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance was scraping and uploading content from Musical.ly, which would later become TikTok as ByteDance acquired the company in 2017.
Flipagram and Vigo Ceased Operations Years Ago, Claims TikTok’s Parent Company
In a statement, a ByteDance spokesperson stated, “ByteDance acquired Flipagram in 2017 and operated it, and subsequently Vigo, for a short time. Flipagram and Vigo ceased operations years ago and aren’t connected to any current ByteDance products.” Moreover, in the recent news, TikTok has surpassed one billion monthly active users around the world. It has overtaken Facebook as the most downloaded social media app in the world.