“TikTok has become the latest target, but we are not the enemy,” Mayer added.
For TikTok, the renewed transparency pledges arrive as the Trump administration and its allies ramp up criticism of the app, which is owned by ByteDance, a tech conglomerate based in China. At times, top U.S. officials have even threatened to ban TikTok domestically, though it remains unclear exactly how they would do so.
TikTok also said Wednesday it would give select outsiders a “real-time” glimpse into its content-moderation policies, responding to concerns that it takes direction from Beijing’s strict censorship rules. TikTok first announced the transparency commitments in March, following reports in which former employees said they had been under pressure in the company’s earlier years to restrict videos that Beijing-based teams had deemed controversial.
TikTok timed its announcement to coincide with a congressional hearing Wednesday featuring the chief executives from Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. Lawmakers plan to grill the four companies’ leaders about competition, part of a year-long probe to determine the extent to which Silicon Valley’s size stifles smaller rivals and harms consumers.
TikTok isn’t part of that hearing, but its name is likely to come up repeatedly — either as a sign the industry is competitive or a warning about the dangers of breaking up its largest companies. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, for example, wrote in his prepared remarks that penalizing U.S. tech firms could instead embolden Chinese competitors that are “exporting their vision to other countries.”
TikTok took its own shots in response on Wednesday, at one point faulting Facebook for launching a “copycat product” similar to its short video app.
“Without TikTok, American advertisers would again be left with few choices,” Mayer wrote. “Competition would dry up and so too will an outlet for America’s creative energy.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of the TikTok CEO.