On Wednesday morning, TikTok’s new CEO, Kevin Mayer, published an open letter blasting Facebook for allegedly trying to snuff out its competition—namely, TikTok—with “maligning attacks” that are “disguised as patriotism.”
The video-sharing service, which is owned by Chinese internet company ByteDance, began gaining popularity worldwide in 2018 and quickly became the seventh most downloaded app of the 2010-2019 decade. But it’s also faced scrutiny from foreign countries for its parentage and concerns that it could share information with the Chinese government: Last month India blocked TikTok along with dozens of other Chinese apps, citing threats “to sovereignty and security of our country,” and in recent weeks other countries have considered following suit.
Those include Japan, Australia, and the United States—where the Trump campaign used Facebook’s reach to circulate ads claiming that TikTok is “spying” on its tens of millions of users.
Of the scrutiny, Mayer wrote, “We accept this and embrace the challenge of giving peace of mind through greater transparency and accountability. We believe it is essential to show users, advertisers, creators, and regulators that we are responsible and committed members of the American community that follows US laws.”
But, he continued, “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 US.”
The comments come just hours before Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is set to testify before Congress about whether his company is leveraging its massive platform to crush rival upstarts.
And from his remarks to Congress, which were released prior to the hearing, Zuckerberg is set to describe Facebook as “a proudly American company,” whose values of democracy and free speech run counter to China’s “version of the internet.”
But it’s not just a war of political ideologies: TikTok also took jabs at Facebook over Lasso, its failed TikTok clone, and Reels, which is its new TikTok competitor on Instagram—both of which Mayer called “copycat” products.
Mayer’s scathing letter serves as his first public comments since leaving the Walt Disney Company to become TikTok’s chief executive in May—and it looks like he’s already willing to take big swings. Your move, Facebook.
A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment.