TikTok boss criticises ‘copycat’ Facebook for ‘maligning attacks’

TikTok’s new boss has hit out at Facebook for launching “maligning attacks” against it “disguised as patriotism”.

Kevin Mayer accused the world’s biggest social network of creating “copycat” products, in a bold first statement since leaving Disney for the TikTok top job in May.

A post of almost 800 words focuses on fair competition, as Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg prepares to face a grilling from US congress alongside the leaders of Amazon, Apple and Google.

“At TikTok we welcome competition,” Mr Mayer said.

“To those who wish to launch competitive products, we say bring it on.

“Facebook is even launching another copycat product, Reels (tied to Instagram), after their other copycat Lasso failed quickly.

“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 US.”

The strong words come amid questions in the US and elsewhere about TikTok’s Chinese roots, centred on security concerns over potential ties to the Chinese state, surveillance and other geopolitical issues.

US secretary of state Mike Pompeo recently said that the Trump administration was “looking at” banning Chinese apps such as TikTok, while the platform is among more than 50 China-linked apps banned in India earlier this month in the wake of a military skirmish between the two nations.

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg is due to answer questions from US legislators on Wednesday (Niall Carson/PA)

The video sharing app – owned by Chinese firm ByteDance – has insisted that China’s Communist Party does not have access to the personal information of its users.

“Without TikTok, American advertisers would again be left with few choices,” Mr Mayer warned.

“We are not political, we do not accept political advertising and have no agenda,” he added, in an apparent swipe at Facebook’s rocky balance of advertising and free speech.

“We believe all companies should disclose their algorithms, moderation policies, and data flows to regulators.”

Tensions between China and the UK have also deepened further after the Government decided to ban Huawei from the 5G network, ordering telecoms firms to remove their 5G equipment by 2027.

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