Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg may have never thought that he would get a role one day in the escalating drama of US sanctions against Chinese tech companies. 

Zuckerberg was requested to express his views regarding his company’s interest in acquiring the most popular short video platform during an internal meeting on August 6, Thursday. The Facebook CEO has gained the spotlight after he said that the White House’s decision to ban Tiktok was a terrible long-term precedent. 

The Entangled History of Facebook and Tiktok

Zuckerberg made the said remark in the middle of a possible acquisition deal between ByteDance and Microsoft. Notably, ByteDance is a Chinese company that owns Tiktok. Zuckerberg’s remark appears to be contradicting the attitudes that the company showed in the past.

Last month, Disney’s former executive and the current CEO of Tiktok Kevin Mayer, slammed Zuckerberg. According to Mayer, the Facebook CEO is using patriotism to disguise his attack on the China-oriented app. He also claimed that Zuckerberg was competing unfairly. 

The Love and Hate Relationship That Zuckerberg Has With China

In the past year, Zuckerberg built an image where he portrayed himself as an enormous Chinese fan. He showcased his skills in speaking Mandarin when he delivered a speech in a tp university in China. On his social media account, Zuckerberg also showed how interested he was in Chinese science fiction. He even jogged in front of Tiananmen Square in Beijing. This left an impression on people that he has an interest or even affection in China.

However, Zuckerberg, who once flaunted being a Chinese fan, seemed to have changed. After failing to enter the Chinese market, Zuckerberg apparently changed his stance towards the growing economy and its competitors. 

Buzzfeed reported that the Facebook CEO had a serious deal with Musical.ly, a startup based in Shanghai, China. The said startup was the platform that became the basis of Tiktok. The social media giant spent so much to close the deal during the second half of 2016.

However, in 2017, Tiktok’s owner ByteDance was the one that closed the deal with Musical.ly. It bid around $800 million for the said deal. 

ByteDance had become even more aggressive in 2018. Its marketing strategy targeted the US camp of Facebook by surging app-install advertisements on the social media giant’s ad network. 

The Entangled History of Facebook and Tiktok

Tiktok was responsible for almost 22 percent of all such ads on US Apple devices at the peak. The research firm Sensor Tower released data that shows that the total downloads in Android and iOS app stores have crossed 2.2 billion times globally. 

What Can Facebook Get When Tiktok Becomes Officially Banned in the US?

The Facebook CEO has seen his Chinese-alike competitor growing up to be a tech giant. 

According to Jin Yechen, a media analyst, the ban has earned Facebook a precious window to compete in the social media battleground. He also added that considering how things look now, the social media giant does not stand a chance to defeat Tiktok when it comes to the short video field without government interventions.

Wei Fangshou, the founder and CEO of Beluga, a consultancy that works on overseas commercial development, also expressed his views regarding the issue. If a competitor becomes too difficult to compete with, it would be much easier if there will be a government approach to attack a Chinese company.

Facebook Launched A Short Video Feature Similar to Tiktok

Reels, a copycat lipsyncing feature, was launched by Facebook on Instagram– another social media platform that it owns. The social media giant’s answer to Tiktok is its latest attempt to rival the viral short video application. Reels came after Lasso. A similar app failed to become popular in 2018.

According to Zuckerberg, there are a lot of people who say that Reels helps Facebook. He added that his reaction to that is only in the most narrow sense. 

The Facebook CEO also noted that he is aware that there is a competition every time. However, he said that this competition might help Facebook’s engagement to go up. It might even make Reels a little easier to launch. 

In a US congressional hearing that happened recently, the Facebook CEO is the only one who expressed a different opinion towards the other three tech tycoons regarding intellectual property thefts by China. The said three tycoons were Amazon, Apple, and Google’s CEO.

The Entangled History of Facebook and Tiktok

When grilled about the practice, Zuckerberg said that he thinks it is well-documented that the Chinese government steals technology from American companies. 

More About Facebook’s Reels and the Growth of More Followers

Reels is basically a new feature on Instagram that is similar to Tiktok. Through this short video feature, users can create short videos set to music, add effects and features, and then easily share them. This made it a perfect tool to get more Facebook followers for any user.

The launch of this new Instagram feature came just as Tiktok faces increased pressure from the US government. US President Donald Trump told ByteDance that it must sell the US business of Tiktok by September 15. If not, the short video platform will be banned entirely from the US. 

The tech giant Facebook has been testing Reels in Brazil for months now. The feature is now rolling out in the US and dozens of markets, including India, where Tiktok has already been banned. Moreover, the launch of Reels is already the second time that Facebook tried to take on Tiktok. In 2018, it launched a similar app called Lasso. However, the said app has been shut down because it did not gain the popularity it needs to beat Tiktok.

Besides, the Reels’ launch came as regulators are examining if Facebook and other big tech companies are using their dominance and scale to disadvantage their rivals unfairly. 

Furthermore, Reels is the latest in Facebook’s long line of products and features that closely resemble other companies’ successful services. That includes Facebook and Messenger Stories, which is similar to Snapchat’s Stories. Another feature is Messenger Rooms, which is similar to its video competitor Zoom.


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