Former Chinese Diplomat Worked on TikTok Content Policy, FT Says

A former Chinese government official decided what content should be allowed on TikTok, the Financial Times reported, citing two people close to the short-video app company.

  • Cai Zheng ran ByteDance’s global content policy team in Beijing until early this year. He’d previously worked at China’s embassy in Tehran, the FT said, citing a deleted LinkedIn profile.
  • Cai joined ByteDance in 2018 and wrote guidelines for what videos were acceptable on TikTok and other apps including Helo and Vigo Video.
  • TikTok told FT that Cai wasn’t involved in developing policies, noting that he worked on regional and local teams on localization of early content policies.
  • ByteDance told the newspaper it was “not a consideration in hiring Zheng that his previous role was in the public sector, and there were no conversations with the government in the hiring process.”
  • Cai couldn’t be reached by FT for comment.
  • The former diplomat transferred from the content policy role in January this year, the people told the paper, and his role has not since been filled.
  • ByteDance told the FT that Cai had decided to move to its gaming team.
  • TikTok now has devolved policy and moderation teams in Los Angeles, Dublin, Singapore and Silicon Valley, the heads of which report to a global head of trust and safety in Beijing, “a Chinese woman known inside ByteDance by the pseudonym Yuyi F,” the FT said.
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