TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer is hitting back at Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, ahead of Zuckerberg’s appearance at a congressional hearing on Big Tech.
Facebook’s “attacks” on TikTok, which is owned by Chinese internet giant ByteDance, are “disguised as patriotism and designed to put an end to our very presence in the U.S.,” Mayer, who took over as CEO of TikTok in June after a long career at Disney, asserted in a blog post.
Meanwhile, Mayer also took a swipe at Facebook-owned Instagram planning to introduce a clone of TikTok’s short-form video app.
“To those who wish to launch competitive products, we say bring it on,” Mayer wrote. “Facebook is even launching another copycat product, Reels (tied to Instagram), after their other copycat Lasso failed quickly.”
Regarding what he called “attacks” by Facebook, Mayer evidently was referring to comments from Zuckerberg’s prepared testimony for Wednesday’s hearing before the House Judiciary Committee as part of its antitrust probe into Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple.
“Although people around the world use our products, Facebook is a proudly American company,” according to Zuckeberg’s prepared remarks. “We believe in values — democracy, competition, inclusion and free expression — that the American economy was built on. Many other tech companies share these values, but there’s no guarantee our values will win out. For example, China is building its own version of the internet focused on very different ideas, and they are exporting their vision to other countries.”
TikTok has been on the receiving end of increased scrutiny — and saber-rattling — from American politicians and policymakers over the app’s China connections. The U.S. government is contemplating banning the app over security concerns related to TikTok’s Chinese ownership, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier this month. (TikTok has said it has never shared data with Chinese authorities “nor would we do so if asked.”)
“TikTok has become the latest target, but we are not the enemy,” Mayer wrote in the blog post.
Compared with other internet companies, TikTok has “received even more scrutiny due to the company’s Chinese origins,” Mayer continued. “We accept this and embrace the challenge of giving peace of mind through greater transparency and accountability. We believe it is essential to show users, advertisers, creators, and regulators that we are responsible and committed members of the American community that follows U.S. laws.”
As part of that lobbying effort, TikTok is publicly disclosing its algorithms, moderation policies, and data flows to regulators with the launch of its “Transparency and Accountability Center,” according to Mayer. “This puts us a step ahead of the industry, and we encourage others to follow suit.”
Mayer said he decided to join TikTok because it “brought successful competition to the marketplace” to challenge the likes of Facebook and Instagram. Among other things, he said, TikTok “has become the place where new music is discovered and explodes onto the scene, such as Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road.’”
“The one thing that will not change is our commitment to ensuring that TikTok remains a safe and secure platform for the tens of millions of American families that derive joy from it,” Mayer wrote.
Mayer also called out TikTok’s $200 million Creator Fund, earmarked to fund American creators. He said the company expects that will grow to over $1 billion in the U.S. in the next three years, and “more than double that globally.” TikTok also is expecting to create 10,000 new jobs across the U.S., according to Mayer.
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