Founded in 2012, ByteDance is a privately owned Chinese company best known for its mobile-based video creation app TikTok. The app, launched in 2016, has since reached more than 150 markets and is available in 75 languages. The company has a global presence, with offices in 126 cities as well as 15 research and development centres worldwide.
Relative to last year, ByteDance shows significant improvements in its disclosure on accessibility. The company has statements regarding accessible design principles, gives evidence of accessibility features, and states that it works with disability organisations to improve their products.
The company has a statement on child online safety and describes policies for reporting and working with local authorities. The company has improved reporting on its security practices such as disclosing its information security management certification.
No evidence could be found regarding efforts to make digital technology more universally available. While the company demonstrates initial efforts towards improving the digital gender gap, more effort could be made in this area. There is an opportunity for ByteDance to report how the economic value it generates is distributed among stakeholders as well as taxes paid and employment generated in its main markets of operation.
No evidence could be found that ByteDance supports activities to help develop digital skills or enhance school connectivity. There is an opportunity for the company to support initiatives in these areas.
ByteDance commits to respect the ILO core labour rights, and has a publicly available statement of policy that expects its business relationships to commit to respecting the ILO core labour rights. However, the company does not publicly commit to respect human rights, and does not disclose a process to identify, assess, and take action on, salient human rights risks its own operations and business relationships. While ByteDance has a grievance mechanism, which is accessible to both workers and external stakeholders to raise human rights concerns and complaints, it is unclear if complainants are able to choose to identify themselves or remain anonymous.
The company publicly commits to respecting the health and safety of workers, and places health and safety expectations on its business relationships and monitors their performance. The company lacks disclosure in reference to labour fundamentals. For example, the company is not explicit in stating that it does not require workers to work more than regular and overtime hours, does not disclose the percentage of its workforce covered by collective bargaining agreements and provides no relevant evidence in relation to paying its workers a living wage. Furthermore, ByteDance does not provide a breakdown of diversity within each employee category.
ByteDance has a policy prohibiting bribery and corruption, but does not include anti-bribery and anti-corruption clauses in contracts with its business relationships and does not have a grievance mechanisms for stakeholders to raise bribery and corruption concerns and complaints. The company does not disclose any information in relation to tax, such as a global tax strategy or income tax payments for all of the company’s tax jurisdictions. ByteDance lacks disclosure across the board in relation to lobbying and political engagement. For example, the company does not state that it does not make political contributions and does not disclose its lobbying expenditures.