During Mark Zuckerberg's highly publicized speech at Georgetown University, the Facebook founder and CEO blasted TikTok for censoring content not just in China but also in the United States.
Mark Zuckerberg Mentions TikTok During Speech
On Thursday, Oct. 17, the tech billionaire criticized the viral video app, which is owned by the Beijing-based company ByteDance, for suppressing content that does not paint the Chinese government in a positive light, including the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.
"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.," Zuckerberg stated. "Is that the internet we want?"
In September, The Washington Post reported that a search for Hong Kong in the app showed "barely a hint of unrest in sight," prompting suspicions that the app is suppressing videos showing protests. Meanwhile, The Guardian revealed that the app is instructing moderators to scrub any mention of Tiananmen Square, Tibetan independence, and the religious group Falun Gong.
Zuckerberg argued that China is the big threat to free speech.
"Until recently, the internet in almost every country outside China has been defined by American platforms with strong free expression," he explained. "A decade ago, almost all of the major internet platforms were American. Today, six of the top ten are Chinese."
Zuckerberg also implied that Facebook is no longer trying to enter China. The social media site has been banned from the Asian country since 2009.
TikTok Responds To Mark Zuckerberg's Criticism
However, a spokesperson refuted accusations that TikTok is censoring content. The spokesperson told CNBC that the app has not received requests from the Chinese government to remove content "and would not have jurisdiction regardless."
The spokesperson also insisted that the app does not suppress videos about the protests in Hong Kong.
However, ByteDance owns an app called Douyin that is similar to TikTok but is only available in China. According to researchers, Douyin is heavily censored.