Facebook‘s Mark Zuckerberg reportedly told employees on Thursday that banning TikTok in the United States would set a bad long term precedent. Though TikTok is one of Facebook’s competitors, a ban on TikTok in America could lead to similar bans on Facebook or other social media websites, both in America and abroad.
These statements follow Trump’s many threats against banning the application in America. The app has already been banned in India and some worry that the Chinese company who owns TikTok is collecting data on Americans through the app. India’s ban was in part a response to a conflict between the country and China, and America’s trade disagreements with China may also be a factor in TikTok’s potential banning in the US. More recently, Trump issued an executive order that effectively gives TikTok an ultimatum of selling to an American company or being banned. Other countries, including Japan and Pakistan, have also reportedly considered their own TikTok ban.
Though Instagram Reels, a Facebook competitor to TikTok, has just been released, Zuckerberg does not see TikTok’s banning as a beneficial event for the company. As Buzzfeed reports, Zuckerberg noted that any gain Facebook apps see as a result of a TikTok ban would only be short term, while ramifications for a ban could affect Facebook, and other social networks, more prominently over the long term. Zuckerberg mentioned in a statement that this decision should be made with the “utmost gravity” and that Trump and other lawmakers should consider the effects that a ban would have beyond U.S. borders.
The statement comes after many previous statements in which Zuckerberg has suggested that TikTok is one of Facebook’s main competitors. In fact, TikTok was one of the points used by Zuckerberg to highlight how Facebook is not a monopoly in a House antitrust committee meeting that took place last month. While that hasn’t changed and TikTok remains a major Facebook competitor, Zuckerberg’s recent comments are likely a result of any potential bans on Facebook that could take place in the future.
So far, the evidence provided on TikTok’s data collection has not amounted to anything too sinister. Many social media apps collect large amounts of user data, and neither TikTok nor Facebook are exceptions to this. A ban on TikTok in America could set the tone where other administrations or agencies lobby for similar bans on other apps, including Facebook. Similarly, this is not just in the US, but could also take place in other countries, and possible even in retaliation to a ban on TikTok, while citing similar data collection concerns as the reasoning.
Due to the data collection similarities between Facebook and TikTok, it is smart for Zuckerberg to oppose such a ban even though the removal of TikTok in the US could benefit Facebook’s own apps and features. As Facebook is used around the world, and if more countries buy into the idea of a ban based on security concerns, then it could easily create a situation where Facebook faces similar challenges and bans to TikTok, but elsewhere.