Controversial Chinese company ByteDance is the parent of the popular but troubled social media platform TikTok. It is also heavily linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and now wants to enter the U.S. book publishing industry.
According to the New York Times, ByteDance filed for a U.S. trademark for the publishing company 8th Note Press in late April.
The outlet also reported that the Chinese company reached out to several independent authors over their book rights. Many in the writing community are disturbed by the news.
TikTok’s CCP-Linked Parent Company Is Trying To Break Into A Whole New Industry
ByteDance, the CCP-linked parent company, is trying to enter the book publishing industry. https://t.co/Vhj985eUNk
— Bart Marcois (@bmarcois) July 2, 2023
TikTok already features BookTok, a community of book lovers on the platform who discuss and share titles. Through this social media group, several established and new authors have found considerable success, according to Insider.
As Bess Braswell of women’s interest publisher Harlequin noted, “to say it’s hugely important is an understatement at this point.”
Now, ByteDance wants to expand its footprint in the U.S. through book publishing. And while it does not yet offer the large advances that regularly come from major publishers, the Times reported that writers benefit from royalties and marketing services through TikTok.
Authors voiced concerns, however, that ByteDance will now promote works from their own 8th Note Press rather than those which flourished through grassroots efforts. Even then, this worry ignores the bigger picture and may miss the mark entirely.
TikTok remains under fire for its strong connections to China’s authoritarian leadership and laws that require it to share harvested data if requested. Is it really a great idea to have Beijing further its influence in the U.S. through a communist-bankrolled publishing firm?
The Biden White House in March gave in to calls from conservative lawmakers and warned ByteDance to sell its stake in TikTok. Without that action, the platform faces a U.S. ban.
Axios reported that a former ByteDance executive confirmed the company kept a “committee” that functioned as a “special office” of the CCP. This group was able to spotlight or eliminate postings on TikTok.
Forbes found in late May that the company stored social security numbers and vital tax data on thousands of content creators on the platform. And just days ago, TikTok admitted to U.S. lawmakers that some sensitive data from U.S. creators is stored in China.