WSJ: Mark Zuckerberg used a private Trump meeting to hurt TikTok

Facebook's CEO has been using meetings with regulators to stoke fears about its rival.

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WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 11:  Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg smiles at the conclusion of his testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill April 11, 2018 in Washington, DC. This is the second day of testimony before Congress by Zuckerberg, 33, after it was reported that 87 million Facebook users had their personal information harvested by Cambridge Analytica, a British political consulting firm linked to the Trump campaign.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images

Mark Zuckerberg may have used a private meeting with Donald Trump to push for the US to attack TikTok, writes the Wall Street Journal. During his visit to Washington DC late last year, the Facebook CEO made both public speeches and private exhortations about the threat posted by its rival. The paper notes that it was after meeting Zuckerberg that senators began raising concerns about TikTok’s safety.

A spokesperson for senator Josh Hawley implies that TikTok is being used to distract from Facebook’s own regulatory concerns and to get lawmakers to crush a rival. Kelli Ford is quoted as saying that Facebook’s alarmism is a “PR tactic to boost its own reputation.” The report adds that Facebook spends record amounts on lobbying, and has launched an advocacy group, American Edge, to boost US tech firms in DC.

TikTok has, for its part, pointed accusatory fingers at Facebook, saying that it’s trying to use politics to damage a rival. In July, CEO Kevin Mayer published an open letter calling Facebook out for launching a “another copycat product [...] after their other copycat, Lasso, failed quickly.” Mayer added that Facebook was launching “maligning attacks by our competitor -- namely Facebook -- disguised as patriotism and designed to put an end to our very presence in the US.”

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