Tech

TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer slams Facebook for attacks 'disguised as patriotism'

Key Points
  • TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer accused Facebook of using patriotism as an unfair way to attack the Chinese-owned consumer app. 
  • Mayer also slammed Facebook's efforts to build copycat apps of TikTok.
  • TikTok accepts that it must deal with even more scrutiny due to the company's Chinese origins, Mayer said.
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. 

Mayer's full blog post is below.

Fair competition and transparency benefits us all

By Kevin Mayer, CEO, TikTok

Innovation is one of the defining characteristics of a competitive market. The introduction of a successful new product fuels growth and dynamism in any industry. It is unfortunate for creators, brands, and the broader community that it has been years since a company came along and reimagined what a social entertainment platform could be. But TikTok did just that. 

TikTok brought a unique and intuitive interface. It gave creators easy, powerful tools. It also encouraged the formation of inclusive and meaningful communities. In short, TikTok brought successful competition to the marketplace. This is why I joined the company as CEO earlier this year: to help lead the next generation of creators to connect with their newly energized audience, while bringing fun entertainment to people's lives.

TikTok has become the place where new music is discovered and explodes onto the scene, such as Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road." During the pandemic, we saw the resonance of Curtis Roach, whose "Bored in the House" mantra became an anthem for putting a positive spin on tough times and helped people better cope with the lockdowns. And best of all, we witnessed many examples of families coming together to perform multi-generational song and dance, which warmed all of our hearts. 

With our success comes responsibility and accountability. The entire industry has received scrutiny, and rightly so. Yet, we have received even more scrutiny due to the company's Chinese origins. We accept this and embrace the challenge of giving peace of mind through greater transparency and accountability. 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 US laws.

Even more, we believe our entire industry should be held to an exceptionally high standard. That's why we believe all companies should disclose their algorithms, moderation policies, and data flows to regulators. We will not wait for regulation to come, but instead TikTok has taken the first step by launching a Transparency and Accountability Center for moderation and data practices. Experts can observe our moderation policies in real-time, as well as examine the actual code that drives our algorithms. This puts us a step ahead of the industry, and we encourage others to follow suit. 

Beyond our commitment to accountability, we also believe all players in the industry should make a positive impact in the community. Our $200 million Creator Fund will help American creators get the most out of TikTok, and we expect that this will grow to over $1 billion in the US in the next 3 years, and more than double that globally. In addition to supporting these creative entrepreneurs, we are also on track to create 10,000 new TikTok jobs across the US.

At TikTok we welcome competition. We think fair competition makes all of us better. 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.

Without TikTok, American advertisers would again be left with few choices. Competition would dry up and so too will an outlet for America's creative energy. We are not political, we do not accept political advertising and have no agenda – our only objective is to remain a vibrant, dynamic platform for everyone to enjoy. Consumers can only benefit from the growth of healthy, successful platforms like TikTok and we will fight to continue to give American creators, users and brands an entertaining outlet for many years to come.  

We are willing to take all necessary steps to ensure the long-term availability and success of TikTok. The one thing that will not change is our commitment to ensuring that TikTok remains a safe and secure platform for the tens of millions of American families that derive joy from it. 

For our skeptics, I am confident we have the answers and where we do not, we will improve. The onus is on us to step up. We are doing so, and will continue to take the bold steps needed. I accept and appreciate the challenge.

TikTok has become the latest target, but we are not the enemy. The bigger move is to use this moment to drive deeper conversations around algorithms, transparency, and content moderation, and to develop stricter rules of the road. We are taking the first step of many to address these concerns, and call on the industry to follow our lead for the benefit of users and creators everywhere.

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Secretary of State Pompeo says decision to ban TikTok and other Chinese apps could come 'shortly'