Wednesday 29 July 2020 2:04 pm

Tiktok boss attacks Facebook as parent firm weighs $50bn takeover bid

Tiktok’s chief executive Kevin Mayer has launched a stinging rebuttal against Facebook, accusing it of using patriotism as a way to unfairly target the short-form video app.

In a blog post today, Mayer criticised Facebook for pushing for higher scrutiny on Tiktok’s Chinese origins.

“At TikTok we welcome competition. We think fair competition makes all of us better,” he wrote.

“But 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.”

Read more: Zuckerberg defends Facebook: ‘Companies aren’t bad just because they’re big’

His comments came ahead of a major antitrust hearing in the US today, at which politicians will question the chief executives of Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Google over their behaviour towards smaller rivals.

In prepared remarks, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg laid emphasis on the social media firm being a “proud American company”, and pointed fingers at China’s internet censorship and data control policies.

The tete-a-tete comes as Tiktok’s Chinese parent Bytedance is said to be weighing up interest in a takeover bid for the video app, in an effort to avoid Tiktok being penalised by foreign governments for its origins.

A number of major investors such as Sequoia and General Atlantic have offered to take over majority ownership of Tiktok and valued the company at $50bn, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Read more: Tiktok could be sold to US investors to avoid American ban

The pricetag would make Tiktok more valuable than rival Snap, which is valued at around $33bn.

If a deal for the whole of Tiktok cannot be reached, Bytedance is exploring divesting only Tiktok’s US operations, one of the sources said. 

Tiktok has faced particularly heavy scrutiny in the US, over fears it could be forced to hand user data to the Chinese government under local rules.

It was also banned in India this month, alongside 58 other Chinese apps, after a dispute between the countries’ governments.

Japanese politicians today raised similar concerns, with reports suggesting a bill may appear later this year that will push for steps to restrict the use of Chinese-owned video app.