In his first major statement on TikTok’s corporate blog, CEO Kevin Mayer addressed the privacy and security concerns that have reached a fever pitch in recent months due to the Bytedance-owned platform’s Chinese origins. Mayer also took the opportunity to take a swing at critic and competitor Facebook.
The blog post dropped today as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin confirmed that TikTok is currently under review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS). The investigation concerns TikTok parent company Bytedance’s acquisition of TikTok precursor Musical.ly, according to CNBC. Today, President Trump also reiterated that the government is looking into a TikTok ban, with Mnuchin adding that his department would soon be making a recommendation to the president on the matter.
Mayer’s blog also arrives ahead of a hearing today whereby the CEOs of tech giants Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple will testify before the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust. In his prepared statements, per CNBC, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg referred to Facebook as a “proudly American company,” taking a jab at TikTok and its Chinese origins (territory he has tread before) — and so Mayer’s blog arrives as something of a retort.
While asserting that competition and transparency are benefits to the market at large, Mayer — a former top Disney exec — acknowledged that TikTok has accepted and embraced greater scrutiny given its Chinese ownership. At the same time, he said that other platforms should be held to the same high standard.
“We believe all companies should disclose their algorithms, moderation policies, and data flows to regulators,” he wrote. “We will not wait for regulation to come, but instead TikTok has taken the first step by launching a Transparency And Accountability Center [in March] 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.”
“To those who wish to launch competitive products, we say bring it on.”
While touting these efforts, Mayer also took explicit aim at Facebook — specifically with respect to the two copycat products that it has launched while simultaneously leveling criticisms about TikTok’s ties to China. This includes the now-defunct standalone Facebook app Lasso, as well as Reels, which lives in Facebook-owned Instagram and has seen an accelerated push to launch and to cultivate a creator community amid the controversy surrounding TikTok. (TikTok has repeatedly denied sharing any data with the Chinese government).
“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,” Mayer wrote. “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.”
“We are not political, we do not accept political advertising, and have no agenda,” Mayer continued, in another jab at Facebook, given rampant criticism with respect to its handling of political ads. “Our only objective is to remain a vibrant, dynamic platform for everyone to enjoy.”
In addition to his attacks on Facebook, Mayer also provided more detail about the just-announced $200 million Creator Fund, which he said expects will grow to over $1 billion in the U.S. over the next three years, and more than double that amount globally. Finally, Mayer noted that TikTok is on track to create 10,000 new jobs in the U.S. over the next three years.
You can read his post in full right here.