Head of Instagram warns potential TikTok ban would set 'powerful precedent'

Head of Instagram warns potential TikTok ban would set 'powerful precedent'
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The head of Instagram on Tuesday warned that the Trump administration’s push to ban the Chinese-owned app TikTok could set a precedent leading to global bans of U.S.-based social media companies, including Instagram and its parent company, Facebook. 

“I think the important thing is that if the U.S. ends up banning TikTok, that sets a really powerful precedent for companies all over the world to ban companies like Instagram or Facebook,” Instagram's Adam Mosseri said on NBC’s “Today.”

“And I think a lot of U.S. companies benefit greatly, like ours, from being able to operate all over the world,” Mosseri continued. “And the risk of that precedent being set or pushed forward, I think is much greater than the benefit we have from slowing down a competitor.”

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The Trump administration has challenged the immensely popular video-sharing app for months due to potential security concerns the administration has raised. The concerns around TikTok are related to the Trump administration's larger efforts to clamp down on Chinese tech companies amid rising tensions between the two nations.

Asked if he is concerned about the national security risk U.S. officials have raised about TikTok, Mosseri said regulation would be better suited to serve concerns rather than a ban. 

“I think there are other ways to address those risks than forcing a sale or banning an app outright. I think regulation makes much more sense,” he said. 

A federal judge last month temporarily blocked the federal ban on the app, allowing TikTok to operate normally in the U.S. at least until a full court hearing can be held. The order blocks a Commerce Department deadline that would have removed TikTok from app stores on Sept. 27. 

A proposed TikTok deal under consideration by Beijing and Washington would establish a U.S.-headquartered TikTok Global and include a partnership with two American companies, Oracle and Walmart, while preserving the involvement of Beijing-based ByteDance. 

Mosseri, who was in charge of the news feed at Facebook in 2016, also addressed the scrutiny over social media companies’ handling of misinformation spreading on platforms, including from foreign adversaries seeking to influence the election. 

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He said the wake of the election four years ago was a “learning moment for us.”

“It took us too long to focus on the negative that can come from connecting so many people at scale. So I think the biggest takeaway is we should have started investing more years earlier than we did and we've been playing catch up since then,” he said. 

Mosseri said he is “really proud of the work that we've done in the last four years” but conceded that companies are not where they need to be yet. 

“But the key takeaway for me was we were too late and we need to invest more to catch up,” he said. 

Instagram unveiled a new feature Tuesday, on the company’s 10th anniversary, aimed at combating issues with offensive comments. The app will start automatically hiding comments similar to those that have been reported.