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.