Mark Zuckerberg wasn't into politics, according to the Wall Street Journal, until he felt the need to protect Facebook from government attacks. So Zuckerberg was able to use his name and position to meet face to face with political leaders like Donald Trump, the latter's son-in-law (Jared Kushner), and others. And taking his game plan directly from Trump's playbook, the co-founder and CEO of Facebook reportedly plotted to have the U.S. government investigate his rivals including TikTok and Apple.
Zuckerberg wants the government to put more scrutiny on Apple
Facebook has been under pressure itself for possible antitrust violations and has been criticized for allowing misinformation and conspiracy theories to be disseminated on its platforms. Forging favorable relationships with powerful politicians and those in the media means that Facebook can court those who make the news and those who report it. Both major political parties have criticized Facebook. Despite the complaints, Facebook continues to grow strongly as annual revenues have soared from less than $28 billion in 2016 to over $70 billion last year.
Zuckerberg's connections with Kushner often veer into the topic of Facebook's policies according to those in the know. Those familiar with the talks say that the Facebook executive met with the president's son-in-law and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to discuss TikTok's U.S. operations. A Facebook spokesman denied that the company was involved in President Trump's Executive Order demanding TikTok parent ByteDance divest itself of its U.S. operations. If this does not take place by next month's deadline, the short-form video app will be banned in the states. The Facebook spokesman said, "Any insinuation that [Mr. Zuckerberg] encouraged the Administration to ban TikTok is false."
Another company that Facebook is rumored to be gunning for is Apple. Again, there are sources who claim to know what is happening behind the scenes and these people say that Zuckerberg has complained to U.S. government officials that Apple does not have to deal with the same amount of scrutiny that Facebook does even though Apple's operating systems like macOS, iOS and iPadOS are used by a large number of Americans. Facebook is currently one of four tech firms, including Apple, Google parent Alphabet, and Amazon that are being examined by Congress for violating certain antitrust regulations. In the case of Facebook, the company might be asked to break up the combined social media group it has built comprised of Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram.
Last month, Zuckerberg refused to say flat out that the Apple App Store is a monopoly although he did state that "Well I certainly think that they have the unilateral control of what gets on the phones in terms of apps. I think it’s probably about 50% of Americans who have smart phones, and a lot more people around the world. I think there are more than a billion Apple devices. So I do think that there are questions that people should be looking into about that control of the App Store and whether that is enabling as robust of a competitive dynamic." Via a webcast, Zuckerberg said of Apple that it "blocks innovation, blocks competition" and "allows Apple to charge monopoly rents."
The founder of Facebook doesn't have this issue with Google and the Google Play Store because Android users aren't locked into the Play Store to buy apps. As Zuckerberg says, "As a developer if you’re not in the Google Play Store, at least you still have a way to get your app on people’s devices. And that means that people aren’t completely going to be shut out if they’re doing something that Google doesn’t prefer. I think that that’s really important, that people have a way to create something and get it on devices if people want."
Some say that the real reason why Zuckerberg is upset with Apple has to do with privacy changes that Apple launched with iOS 14 that make ad-tracking harder. Tracking ads allows a brand to determine how much pull a particular advertisement might have had with the consumers who viewed it. This information could help Facebook sell advertising space to some firms.