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In a new twist to the TikTok saga, a new report claims that last year Zuckerberg discussed with White House lawmakers the threat from Beijing-based ByteDance (Tiktok’s parent company) to other U.S. tech companies.
As the TikTok future in the U.S. hangs in balance, there’s some more spice to the story! Late on Sunday, August 23, The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stoked Washington’s fears about TikTok.
Citing people familiar with the matter, the publication reported that Zuckerberg spent the September-October last year warning about the U.S. Government about the dangers posed by Chinese tech giant TikTok. This was almost a year back before the company launched Reels earlier this month.
Reportedly, Facebook filled Washington’s ears against the Beijing-owned company. During a dinner at the White House, Zuckerberg told President Donald Trump that addressing the Chinese threat should be a priority rather than reining-in on Facebook.
Zuckerberg had warned that companies like TikTok pose risk to America’s values as well as the country’s technological dominance. Besides, Zuckerberg also said that ByteDance, the Beijing-based parent company of TikTok doesn’t share the same commitment of freedom of expression as Facebook does.
The people familiar with the matter also said that Zuckerberg discussed TikTok in several meetings with the senator. U.S. lawmakers Tom Cotton and Chuck Schumer who met Facebook CEO last September launched an inquiry in TikTok the very next month. The government swung in action an initiated a national-security of the company post that.
Today, we all know what’s brewing around with TikTok. Earlier this month, President Trump signed an executive order banning all U.S. transactions for this social network. TikTok is most likely to revoke this ban today in the court as per industry reports. On the other hand, U.S. tech giants like Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Oracle Corporation (NYSE: ORCL) have also shown interest to acquire TikTok’s U.S operations.
Facebook Denies Any Involvement by Zuckerberg to TikTok Ban
Well, it is very much clear that TikTok was eating into Facebook’s market share and is a direct competitor to Instagram. The social media video-sharing app was booming in popularity over the last few months. It has grown to over 800 million users in a very short span of time. Needless to say, it could possibly have eaten into Instagram’s advertising space over time.
While the WSJ report makes things skeptical, Facebook has denied any such involvement of its CEO. Speaking to CNBC, a Facebook spokesperson said:
“Mark (Zuckerberg) has never advocated for a ban on TikTok. He has repeatedly said publicly that the biggest competitors to U.S. tech companies are Chinese companies, with values that don’t align with democratic ideals like free speech. It’s ludicrous to suggest that long-standing national security concerns — raised by policymakers on both sides of the aisle — have been shaped by Mark’s statements alone”.
But this is not just the story about Facebook vs TikTok. When it comes to collecting users’ personal data, TikTok’s practices have been more questionable. Besides, there have been several allegations that the app tracks user locations much frequently. In June 2020, tech giant Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) also caught TikTok for secretly spying on millions of iPhone users, as per Forbes.