The director of the artificial intelligence lab run by ByteDance – TikTok’s Chinese Communist Party-linked parent company – is joining the University of California Santa Barbara as a professor.
ByteDance’s Li Lei will join the taxpayer-funded university as an assistant professor in the computer science department, tweeting on Saturday that the career change is “very exciting.” Li has worked at ByteDance since 2016 following a two-year stint at another Chinese Communist Party-linked tech giant Baidu.
— Lei Li (@lileics) August 1, 2021
The hire comes amidst evidence revealing that the TikTok parent company employs former Chinese Communist Party officials, including individuals with military ties, to executive roles and even grants party members preferential treatment in hiring processes.
Its founder has also pledged to use ByteDance to “promote socialist core values” and devotion to the Chinese Communist Party in 2018.
The app’s threat to national security and data privacy prompted the Trump administration to attempt to ban the platform from operating in the U.S. – an effort recently quashed by the Biden White House.