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Ex-ByteDance Executive Says Tech Firm Stole Rivals’ Content

The former engineering chief says he was dismissed for flagging illegal activity which involved using and profiting from Instagram and Snapchat content

Yu also said in the complaint that ByteDance created fabricated users.


A former Bytedance engineering chief claims he was sacked for raising concerns that content was being lifted from other platforms, mainly Instagram and Snapchat.

Yintao “Roger” Yu said in a complaint filed on Friday in a San Francisco state court that the Chinese tech company engaged in a “worldwide scheme to steal and profit from the content of others” without seeking permission.

When Yu raised these concerns to higher management, he said they dismissed them and asked him to hide the illegal program, especially from employees in the United States, as it had stricter IP laws and class actions.

The dispute comes at a time when ByteDance-owned app TikTok faces growing calls for a nationwide ban from some US lawmakers regarding concerns about potential Chinese government influence over it.

Yu was later dismissed by ByteDance in November 2018.


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Yu also said in the complaint that ByteDance created fabricated users to exaggerate its metrics and served as a useful propaganda tool for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

He is seeking a court order that would prohibit ByteDance from scraping content from other social media platforms.

In response to the complaint, ByteDance said: “We plan to vigorously oppose what we believe are baseless claims and allegations. Mr Yu worked for ByteDance Inc for less than a year.”

ByteDance also responded to the scraping allegations, saying it acquired data in line with industry practice and its global policy.

In April, Montana lawmakers passed a bill to ban its short-form TikTok app from operating in the state.

In March, US lawmakers questioned TikTok’s Chief Executive Shou Zi Chew about potential Chinese influence, saying its short videos were damaging children’s mental health, reflecting bipartisan concerns about the app’s power over Americans.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara


Read more:

ByteDance Staff Read Reporters’ TikTok Data to Track Leaks

China to Oppose Any Investment Ban on High-Tech Industries

ByteDance Uploaded Other Platforms’ Accounts – BuzzFeed



Sean O'Meara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.


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