Former employees of ByteDance Inc. have revealed that the company created fake user accounts.
ByteDance owns Tiktok, which hosts a variety of short-form user videos, from genres like pranks, stunts, tricks, jokes, dance, and entertainment with durations from 15 seconds to ten minutes.
In an interview with BuzzFeed, four former employees claimed that ByteDance scrapped data from Instagram to create fake user accounts.
They described it as a growth hack adopted by the company to strengthen the prospects of the company’s products.
It is undoubtedly unethical practice disguised under false pretenses ostensibly invoked as growth strategy.
The malpractice began when ByteDance acquired Instagram’s former rival Flipagram in 2017.
ByteDance started scrapping data from the Instagram accounts of thousands of creators.
They would then re-upload the same content to test how well it resonated with the audience.
The data scrapped from Instagram also became the base for training its now mighty personalization algorithm used to recommend content.
ByteDance ended up with a product built without the consent of other creators and companies.
Moreover, it scrapped data from platforms like Instagram, which violate Meta policies.
The former employees also disclosed that the company manipulated content statistics. ByteDance inflated view counts in bid to woo content creators to make it their primary platform.
However, when media reached out to ByteDance for a comment on this, they denied the allegations and dissociated from these two products.
“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,” said Jennifer Banks.
History of ByteDance
March 2012: ByteDance is founded by Yiming Zhang in Beijing China.
August 2012: ByteDance launches Toutlao, an online mobile content discovery platform.
March 2015: ByteDance launches Ai Lab
August 2015: ByteDance launches TopBuzz
September 2016: ByteDance launches TikTok.
February 2017: ByteDance acquires Flipagram
November 2017: ByteDance acquires News Republic & Musical.ly
March 2019: ByteDance acquires Mokun Technology.
TikTok is Currently the most popular product from ByteDance. The platform has over 1 billion active users spread across 150 countries in the world.
The app has been downloaded over 200 million times in the United States alone.