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TikTok cyberattack targets CNN, Paris Hilton and other high-profile accounts

The TikTok logo is seen on a mobile phone in front of a computer screen which displays the TikTok home screen.
TikTok is facing a cyberattack.
(Michael Dwyer / Associated Press)
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TikTok is investigating a cyberattack targeting “a number of high-profile” accounts, including media outlet CNN and celebrity Paris Hilton.

The social media giant said this week in a statement that it is in direct contact with “affected account owners to restore access, if needed,” and has taken measures to prevent future incidents.

In particular, a TikTok spokesperson said, the company has been “collaborating closely with CNN to restore account access and implement enhanced security measures” after the news organization was targeted on the app by “malicious actors.”

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“We are dedicated to maintaining the integrity of the platform and will continue to monitor for any further inauthentic activity,” the representative added.

TikTok plans to lay off employees this week, according to a report in the Information. The job cuts come as other companies have recently cut staff, including Apple and Google in California.

May 22, 2024

The spokesperson did not provide any information about the identities and possible motive of the hackers. According to the Associated Press, the attack occurred through the app’s direct-messaging feature and one of the other targets was Hilton. The attack on Hilton’s account was unsuccessful, said a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to comment.

The Times has reached out to CNN and Hilton spokespeople for comment.

The cyberattack is the latest hurdle for TikTok, which sued the United States government last month for creating a new law that would in effect ban the short-form video platform in the country unless its current Chinese parent company, ByteDance, sells the app’s American operations.

TikTok creators sued the U.S. government on Tuesday, alleging a new law that could ban the app violates their free speech rights under the 1st Amendment. The legislation is meant to force Chinese owner ByteDance to sell the service.

May 15, 2024

Several TikTok content creators have also taken legal action against the government, accusing it of
violating their free speech rights with the legislation.

Additionally, TikTok is facing a round of layoffs expected to affect employees in its global content, marketing and user departments, according to technology-focused news outlet the Information, which first reported on the job cuts.

Times staff writer Wendy Lee and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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