Power

TikTok says it isn’t the enemy – Facebook is

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill, the State Department and the White House have all made it clear that they are mulling ways to ban TikTok over concerns that it shares data with China.

The TikTok app

The argument serves a dual purpose for TikTok.

Photo: Kon Karampelas

In a letter to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday morning, TikTok's top lobbyist, Michael Beckerman, said the company hopes to "set the record straight" about its ties to China, whether it poses a national security threat to the U.S. and how its existence counteracts the massive power of dominant social media companies like Facebook.

"Without TikTok, all that users would be left with is copycats offered by the same players who already dominate the online landscape," wrote Beckerman in a thinly veiled jab at Facebook, which is working to spin up a TikTok copycat called Reels.

TikTok sent the letter hours before Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai are set to appear before the committee to address questions around their market dominance. The tech executives, and particularly Zuckerberg, are likely to call out TikTok by name, claiming the mega-popular video app's rise is a sign of a healthy, competitive online marketplace.

For the most part, Beckerman made it clear that he agrees TikTok is a serious competitor — but that the company is concerned that Facebook is attempting to wield its market power to crush it.

The argument serves a dual purpose for TikTok: It both frames Facebook as a monopolist strangling an upstart competitor and discourages lawmakers from moving forward with plans to push TikTok out from U.S. markets over their concerns that TikTok is excessively cozy with the Chinese government. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill, the State Department and the White House have all made it clear that they are mulling ways to ban TikTok over concerns that it shares data with China (which Beckerman insists it does not do.)

In addition to the letter, TikTok's new CEO, Kevin Mayer, on Wednesday morning posted his first public remarks, which mainly revolve around how TikTok helps keep competition alive in the U.S., despite Facebook's alleged efforts to quash the company,

"At TikTok we welcome competition," Mayer wrote. "To those who wish to launch competitive products, we say bring it on."

"TikTok has become the latest target," he wrote. "But we are not the enemy."

Read Beckerman's full letter her (PDF):

TikTok_Letter_re_House_Antitrust_Hearing_2020.07.29_FINAL.pdf

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Photo: Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

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Photo: artpartner-images via Getty Images

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