Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has launched a scathing attack on popular video app TikTok labelling it as a threat to democracy.
Chinese technology behemoth ByteDance acquired Musical.ly in 2017, and used its Douyin application to create the viral video app known globally as TikTok.
Zuckerberg blasted TikTok and claims that they have been guilty of censoring it users, and doctoring and removing content from the platform. TikTok has vehemently denied the accusations from the founder of the world’s largest social media platform.
The United States and China have been locked in a protracted trade war which has seen US authorities come down hard on Chinese ICT vendors Huawei and ZTE. However, it now also appears that ByteDance and TikTok are now firmly in the cross hairs of US senators in Washington, and these comments from Zuckerberg only serves to add more fuel to the fire.
The US Senate recently held a special hearing on China and big tech but ByteDance failed to attend which has raised further suspicion over how the company operates.
Zuckerberg was delivering a public speech at Georgetown University, when he proceeded to lambast the Chinese company for its policy of censorship on its users.
He said, “While our services like WhatsApp are used by protesters and activists everywhere due to strong encryption and privacy protections, on TikTok, the China-based app growing quickly around the world, mentions of these same protests are censored, even here in the US. Is that the internet we want?”
Some commentators are speculating that Zuckerberg’s comments are cynically motivated because he failed in his efforts to purchase Musical.ly in 2016 as part of an attempt by Facebook to break into the Chinese music market.
At the time of the acquisition attempt, Bloomberg reported that Facebook walked away from a potential deal over concerns about its user base and Chinese ownership.
When contacted by BuzzFeed regarding Zuckerberg’s strong criticism of TikTok, a spokesman for the company said ethical concerns was the main factor in its decision not to purchase Musical.ly back in 2016.
“As Mark said in his speech at Georgetown, we wanted our services in China because we believe in connecting the whole world. But we could never come to an agreement on what it would take, and now we have more freedom to speak out and stand up for the values we believe in — and we’re doing exactly that.”