The operator of Chinese social media platform TikTok in Japan paid influencers to spread videos on Twitter without giving a disclaimer to viewers, local media reported on Monday.

The Japan office of ByteDance Ltd., TikTok’s parent company, “is believed to have spread TikTok videos handpicked by the company through the influencers to raise recognition levels of the app,” according to a report by Kyodo News.

The strategy may be considered “stealth marketing” because viewers probably took the videos as normal posts from ordinary users.

“The company said the practice, which had been in place until last December, of paying influencers to upload specific videos was not aimed at increasing the number of the app’s downloads and therefore it thought it was not obliged to clarify that the videos were intended for public relations activities,” read the report.

It also refused to divulge the amount and other details of the payments because of “contracts with the social media influencers.”

However, it said in a statement that the strategy “could mislead app users and other people concerned,” vowing to take “necessary measures to prevent a similar incident from happening again,” the report added.

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