May 14, 2021

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Facebook attacks ‘disguised as patriotism’

Chairman of Direct-to-Consumer & International division of The Walt Disney Company Kevin Mayer took part today in the Disney+ Showcase at Disney’s D23 EXPO 2019 in Anaheim, Calif., August 23, 2019.

Jesse Grant

TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer is accusing Facebook of using patriotism as an unfair way to attack the Chinese-owned consumer app. 

“At TikTok we welcome competition. We think fair competition makes all of us better,” Mayer said in a blog note posted Wednesday. “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 post comes after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s prepared remarks were published ahead of his testimony before the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust scheduled for Wednesday. In those remarks, Zuckerberg touted Facebook as being “a proudly American company.” 

“We believe in values — democracy, competition, inclusion and free expression — that the American economy was built on,” Zuckerberg wrote. “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.”

Mayer also slammed Facebook’s efforts to build copycat apps of TikTok, which is an app where users can post short videos and is one of the most popular apps among teens and young adults. 

“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.”

Mayer was head of streaming at Disney before becoming TikTok’s CEO and the new chief operating officer of its Chinese parent-company ByteDance in May

Since Mayer’s arrival, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the U.S. is looking at banning TikTok and other Chinese social media apps.

TikTok accepts that it must deal with even more scrutiny due to the company’s Chinese origins, Mayer said.

“We accept this and embrace the challenge of giving peace of mind through greater transparency and accountability,” he said. “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.”

In March, TikTok announced plans for a Transparency and Accountability Center to disclose its content policies and algorithm. In his new statement, Mayer called on other social media apps to also disclose their algorithms, moderation policies and data flows to regulators.

“We believe our entire industry should be held to an exceptionally high standard,” he said. 

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