TikTok Japan office paid influencers to spread videos in stealth marketing operation

The Japanese operator of the popular Chinese video-sharing app TikTok said on Monday that it had pushed social media influencers to post certain videos to Twitter without informing viewers of the payments.

It is believed that the Japanese office of ByteDance Ltd. He has posted TikTok videos chosen by the company through influencers to raise awareness of the app in a strategy that can be seen as stealth marketing. It is believed that viewers may mistake these clips as normal posts of general social media users.

The company said the practice, which was in place until last December, of paying influencers to upload certain videos is not intended to drive app downloads, and therefore it believes it is under no obligation to make clear that the videos were for PR activities.

The Japan office declined to disclose the amount and duration of the payments, citing contracts with social media influencers.

The company said in a statement that the action it has taken may mislead users of the application and other concerned persons, and that it will take the necessary measures to prevent a similar incident from happening again.

According to the American research firm Sensor Tower Inc. The number of downloads worldwide for the TikTok app, which allows users to upload short videos set to music and especially popular among young people, reached 3 billion by July 2021.

Former US President Donald Trump banned major mobile apps in China including TikTok in August 2020 on national security grounds, saying the apps automatically capture huge amounts of information from users.

In June 2021, US President Joe Biden rescinded his predecessor’s executive orders, although he had already sought to assess the risks associated with software applications related to the foreign adversary.

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