ByteDance introduced Lark in 2017. The tool, which has a Chinese-only equivalent known as Feishu, is used by all ByteDance subsidiaries, including TikTok and its 7,000 U.S. employees. Lark features a chatting platform, video conferencing, task management and document collaboration features. When Mr. Chew was asked about Lark in the March hearing, he said it was like “any other instant messaging tool” for corporations and compared it to Slack.
Lark has been used for handling individual TikTok account issues and sharing documents that contain personally identifiable information since at least 2019, according to the documents obtained by The Times.
In June 2019, a TikTok employee shared an image on Lark of the driver’s license of a Massachusetts woman. The woman had sent TikTok the picture to verify her identity. The image — which included her address, date of birth, photo and driver’s license number — was posted to an internal Lark group with more than 1,100 people that handled the banning and unbanning of accounts.
The driver’s license, as well as passports and identification cards of people from countries including Australia and Saudi Arabia, were accessible on Lark as of last year, according to the documents seen by The Times.
Lark also exposed users’ child sexual abuse materials. In one October 2019 conversation, TikTok employees discussed banning some accounts that had shared content of girls over three years old who were topless. Workers also posted the images on Lark.
Mr. Haurek, the TikTok spokesman, said employees were instructed to never share such content and to report it to a specialized internal child safety team.