When Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivered a speech on freedom of expression in Washington, DC last fall, there was another agenda: to raise the alarm about the threat posed by Chinese tech companies, and particularly the popular video sharing TikTok app.
There was a line in the speech that pointed to Facebook
Emerging Rival: Zuckerberg told Georgetown students that TikTok does not share Facebook's commitment to freedom of expression and poses a risk to American values and technological supremacy.
That was a message Zuckerberg had hammered behind the scenes at meetings with officials and lawmakers during the October trip and a separate visit to Washington weeks earlier, according to those familiar with the matter. At a private dinner at the White House in late October, Zuckerberg made it clear to President Donald Trump that the rise of Chinese internet companies threatens American business and should be a bigger problem than curbing Facebook, some people said.
Zuckerberg specifically discussed TikTok in meetings with several senators, according to people familiar with the meetings. In late October, Senator Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Who met with Zuckerberg in September, and Senator Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Wrote a letter to intelligence officials requesting an investigation into TikTok. The government began a national security review of the company shortly after, and in the spring, Trump threatened to ban the app entirely. This month he signed an executive order calling for the Chinese owner of TikTok, ByteDance Ltd., to separate from its US operations.
Few tech companies have benefited as much from TikTok's troubles as Facebook, and the social media giant has played an active role in raising concerns about the popular app and its Chinese owners.
In addition to Zuckerberg's personal reach and public speaking out about Chinese competition, Facebook formed an advocacy group called American Edge, which has begun running ads asking for U.S. tech companies for their contributions to American economic power, national security, and culture Influence to be praised. And Facebook spent more on lobbying in the first half of this year than any individual company, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. In 2018, however, it was eighth among the companies according to data from the center.
An expanded version of this report is posted on WSJ.com.
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