Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Warns that TikTok, China Are the Real Threats to Privacy

Mark Zuckerberg is seen in 2010, with Facebook already the largest online social network but before its stock market debut
JUSTIN SULLIVAN/AFP

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg warned during a speech at Georgetown University that Chinese-owned apps such as TikTok pose a greater threat to user privacy than Facebook. Zuckerberg argues that China “is now exporting their vision of the internet to other countries.”

Mashable reports that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated during a recent speech at Georgetown University that Chinese company-owned apps such as TikTok which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance pose more of a threat to user privacy than American companies such as Facebook.

During the speech, Zuckerberg stated: “While our services, like WhatsApp, are used by protesters and activists everywhere due to strong encryption and privacy protections, on TikTok, the Chinese app growing quickly around the world, mentions of these protests are censored, even in the U.S. Is that the internet we want?”

Zuckerberg stated that China “is now exporting their vision of the internet to other countries.” He further add: “Until recently, the internet in almost every country outside China has been defined by American platforms with strong free expression values. There’s no guarantee these values will win out. A decade ago, almost all of the major internet platforms were American. Today, six of the top ten are Chinese.”

A TikTok spokesperson denied that the Chinese government affects the app’s content policies in a statement saying:

Our content and moderation policies are led by our US-based team and are not influenced by any foreign government. The Chinese government does not request that TikTok censor content, and would not have jurisdiction regardless, as TikTok does not operate there. To be clear: We do not remove videos based on the presence of Hong Kong protest content.

During the speech, Zuckerberg appeared to suggest that Facebook was no longer working to gain a foothold in the Chinese market stating: “I wanted our services in China because I believe in connecting the whole world and I thought we might help create a more open society. I worked hard to make this happen. But we could never come to agreement on what it would take for us to operate there, and they never let us in. And now we have more freedom to speak out and stand up for the values we believe in and fight for free expression around the world.”

Some appeared to think that Zuckerberg’s comments on China were a sudden change from what he had said in the past. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) who has been a longtime critic of Facebook stated in a tweet: “He told me in our meeting when I asked about Chinese censorship that Facebook ‘always complies with local laws,’ and offered this as explanation for why FB was ready to censor in Chinese mkt. Zuck went on to compare Chinese censorship rules on Tiananmen & Uyghurs to Germany’s rules against Holocaust denial. Both just “local laws,” he said. Interesting way to advocate free speech.”

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com

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