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Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg Stoked Washington’s Fears About TikTok

Facebook spent more money on lobbying than any single company in the first half of 2020, That’s according to figures cited by the Wall Street Journal from the Center for Responsive Politics.

But that’s not all they did. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also began personally delivering a message last fall that TikTok “doesn’t share Facebook’s commitment to freedom of expression, and represents a risk to American values and technological supremacy.”

That was a message Zuckerberg hammered behind the scenes in meetings with officials and lawmakers during the October trip and a separate visit to Washington weeks earlier, according to people familiar with the matter. In a private dinner at the White House in late October, Zuckerberg made the case to President Donald Trump that the rise of Chinese internet companies threatens American business, and should be a bigger concern than reining in Facebook, some of the people said.

Zuckerberg discussed TikTok specifically in meetings with several senators, according to people familiar with the meetings. In late October, Sen. Tom Cotton, R- Ark. — who met with Zuckerberg in September — and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., wrote a letter to intelligence officials demanding an inquiry into TikTok. The government began a national-security review of the company soon after, and by the spring, Trump began threatening to ban the app entirely. This month he signed an executive order demanding that TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance Ltd., divest itself of its U.S. operations.
Few tech companies have as much to gain as Facebook from TikTok’s travails, and the social-media giant has taken an active role in raising concerns about the popular app and its Chinese owners.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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