Mark Zuckerberg Reportedly Lobbied for a TikTok Ban
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg may have been a key force behind President Trump’s executive order on TikTok. According to the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Zuckerberg actively lobbied for a TikTok ban in private meetings with members of Congress that are tough on China and the President himself.
People familiar with the matter told WSJ that, behind the scenes in Washington and during White House dinners, Mr. Zuckerberg discussed how the rise of Chinese internet companies threatens American businesses and fueled the Congress’ existing fears of TikTok’s soaring popularity posing a national security risk.
In these meetings, Mr. Zuckerberg is said to have echoed the same concerns he voiced in his Georgetown University speech in October. “On TikTok, the Chinese app growing quickly around the world, mentions of protests are censored, even in the U.S. Is that the internet we want?” Mr. Zuckerberg told students.
Facebook also reportedly reached out to several lawmakers and senators who had historically been critical of China and expressed concerns over why, if American companies are banned from China, TikTok should be allowed to operate in the United States.
We’ve reached out to Facebook and TikTok for a comment and we’ll update the story when we hear back.
Shortly after, the dominos seemingly began collapsing for TikTok. In October, Senator Tom Cotton and Senator Chuck Schumer — both of whom, WSJ claims, met with Mr. Zuckerberg in September — demanded an official inquiry into TikTok. Weeks later, the China-based startup, Bytedance’s acquisition of TikTok became the subject of a national security review by the Committee on Foreign Investment.
Over the course of the next few months, TikTok landed under heavy scrutiny and faced bans in official departments such as the U.S. Army. The final nail in the coffin arrived earlier this month when President Trump signed an executive order that would block TikTok in the United States unless it sells off its operations to an American owner. All this while, Facebook accelerated its work on a TikTok competitor called Reels and even began poaching TikTok stars for exclusive deals.
TikTok’s CEO, Kevin Mayer soon hit back at Facebook and called for “fair and open competition.” “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,” he wrote in a blog post.