TikTok chief Kevin Mayer didn’t mince words when it came to Facebook on Wednesday, skewering the tech giant for copying its popular app and for also calling into question its ties to China’s communist government.
“At TikTok we welcome competition. We think fair competition makes all of us better,” Mayer said in a blog post. “But let’s focus our energies on fair and open competition in service of our consumers, rather than maligning attacks by our competitor — namely Facebook — disguised as patriotism and designed to put an end to our very presence in the U.S.”
Mayer’s comments come as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg prepares to speak before Congress on Wednesday. Zuckerberg, in his prepared remarks, said Facebook believes in certain American values, including free expression and democracy, and that while other tech companies may feel the same way, “there’s no guarantee” these values will win out. “For example,” Zuckerberg added, “China is building its own version of the internet focused on very different ideas, and they are exporting their vision to other countries.”
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Zuckerberg’s remarks were apparently seen as a direct call-out of TikTok, which has been under increased scrutiny in recent months from U.S. lawmakers. TikTok’s critics have questioned the app’s data collection practices, as well as the relationship between its owner, Beijing-based Bytedance, and China’s government; TikTok has denied ever sharing user data with China’s government.
At the same time, Mayer blasted Facebook-owned Instagram for launching Reels, a feature that shares a number of similarities with TikTok, including letting users create and share 15-second video clips set to a range of music. Mayer also mentioned Facebook tried to launch its own TikTok copycat, Lasso, but that it fizzled out.
“To those who wish to launch competitive products, we say bring it on,” Mayer said. “Facebook is even launching another copycat product, Reels (tied to Instagram), after their other copycat Lasso failed quickly.”