Facebook to attack TikTok?

Business & Technology

Mark Zuckerberg has to defend his company’s business practices in front of the U.S. Congress. Will he use the patriotism card to divert attention to TikTok and WeChat?

mark zuckerberg and other facebook staff take a jog in tiananmen square in beijing
Mark Zuckerberg jogging in smoggy Beijing in 2016. We can expect a different kind of publicity stunt tomorrow.

Tomorrow at 12 noon EDT, the “captains of the New Gilded Age — Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Sundar Pichai of Google — will appear together before Congress for the first time to justify their business practices,” reports the New York Times.

Mark Zuckerberg spent much of the 2010s licking boots to get into China, where his company’s eponymous product has been blocked since 2009 — see his:

But the Zuck seems to have given up on China.

  • Last year, he defended Facebook’s digital currency project, Libra, to the U.S. Congress by saying that if Facebook did not do it, China would become the world’s financial leader.
  • According to Bloomberg, he plans to offer a similar defense in tomorrow’s testimony: that regulating U.S. tech giants would hinder American technological innovation and help China, and that Facebook is “an American success story…now threatened by the rise of Chinese social media apps.” TikTok is specifically mentioned.
  • Facebook is also targeting TikTok’s users: The company’s Instagram app “has offered financial incentives to TikTok users with millions of followers to persuade them to use a new competing service,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

What’s next?

  • Earlier this month, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hinted at a ban on TikTok: Zuckerberg’s testimony might increase America’s appetite for that.
  • If TikTok is banned, WeChat may follow: It is arguably a much greater security risk and a global competitor in everything from messaging to mobile payments.