Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly voiced serious concerns about the possibility of the U.S. government banning the popular video-sharing app TikTok.
Speaking to employees at an all-hands meeting on Thursday, August 6, the CEO said that such a move, which has been threatened by President Trump, would set “a really bad long-term precedent,” according to a BuzzFeed report.
Trump has told ByteDance — the Chinese company behind TikTok — to sell its U.S. operations to an American company by September 15 or face a ban. Trump considers TikTok a security risk over fears that user data could end up in the hands of the Chinese government, though ByteDance has always insisted this will never happen.
When asked during the meeting for his thoughts on the TikTok issue, Zuckerberg said: “I just think it’s a really bad long-term precedent, and that it needs to be handled with the utmost care and gravity whatever the solution is,” adding, “I am really worried…it could very well have long-term consequences in other countries around the world.”
The Facebook chief also reportedly acknowledged the complexity of the issue, saying there are “valid national security questions about having an app that has a lot of people’s data that follows the rules of another country, a government that is increasingly kind of seen as a competitor.”
Microsoft is in talks with ByteDance over the possible acquisition of its U.S. operations, though a participant at Facebook’s meeting on Thursday was still minded to ask if the social networking giant was also interested in making an offer. But Zuckerberg declined to talk about the company’s business affairs.
Apparently keener on taking on the competition rather than buying it, Facebook this week launched its own TikTok competitor, called Reels, on Facebook-owned Instagram.
It’s not the first feature Facebook has cloned in order to take on competitors. It also launched, for example, Instagram Stories in 2016 after Snapchat Stories became a huge hit, and, more recently, it rolled out Rooms, a videoconferencing platform similar to Zoom, a service that’s seen a massive uptick in use as more people work from home during the pandemic.