Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg warned President Donald Trump at a White House dinner last October that Chinese tech firms posed a direct threat to the U.S. business, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal that cites people claiming to be familiar with the matter.
He is said to have argued that clamping down on these firms should be more of a priority than reining in Facebook.
Around the time of the dinner, Zuckerberg warned U.S. officials and lawmakers that Chinese tech firms pose a risk to American values and the nation’s technological dominance. The tech mogul is also said to have pointed out that TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-headquartered ByteDance, doesn’t share Facebook’s commitment to freedom of expression.
U.S. lawmakers Tom Cotton and Chuck Schumer — who met Zuckerberg in September — called for an inquiry into TikTok in October. A national security review was launched soon after and Trump signed an executive order to ban the app this month citing national security concerns. TikTok confirmed over the weekend that it has launched a legal appeal against the ban.
TikTok presents major competition to Facebook’s business. The social video-sharing app, which has boomed in popularity in recent months, competes directly with Instagram. Given the size of TikTok’s audience, it’s possible companies would rather pay for advertising space on TikTok than on Instagram or Facebook.
A Facebook spokesperson told: “Mark (Zuckerburg) 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.”
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