Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has criticized TikTok during his speech at Georgetown University. He said the Chinese government has pressured TikTok into censoring messages of support for the ongoing Hong Kong protests.
“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.,” said Zuckerberg.
He also sent out a warning against China.
Zuckerberg said that China “is now exporting their vision of the internet to other countries.”
“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,” adds Zuckerberg.
TikTok has responded to Zuckerberg’s statements. The Chinese company has denied the government’s involvement in TikTok’s content policies.
“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,” TikTok said.
TikTok has been criticized for its attempt to censor content. The Guardian has reported about internal documents that show how TikTok content moderators were asked to censor videos containing subjects or topics that would make the Chinese government mad.
Just this week, the Chinese tech firm has announced that as part of its commitment to its users and the TikTok experience, it would be hiring a third-party law firm whose task will involve reviewing the company’s content moderation policies. The company will also be working on increasing transparency.
Mark Zuckerberg has been expressing his thoughts about the Chinese tech giants like TikTok. His being vocal about this issue might suggest that Facebook is no longer aiming to get into China. Zuckerberg’s Facebook has been banned in China since 2009.
“I wanted our services in China because I believe in connecting the whole world,” he said. “I worked hard to make this happen. But we could never come to an agreement on what it would take for us to operate there, and they never let us in,” Zuckerberg stated.
Mark Zuckerberg’s speech at Georgetown University was seen as a defense of his company’s policies on content moderation. In his speech, the CEO of Facebook said his social media network is a public platform used as a tool for expanding free expression by many people in the world.
He also adds that free speech on the Internet will rely on the values of competing policies of different governments around the world and the various social media platforms. With that said, Zuckerberg has identified China as one of the strongest threats to free expression.