Any short-term benefit that Instagram would see from a potential TikTok ban is “greatly outweighed by the risks of a fragmented internet,” Instagram head Adam Mosseri said Friday.
“If we move to a place where countries start to silo internet within them, and we can’t operate in that way, I think that it’s much more problematic than any short-term benefit,” Mosseri told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “If it benefits us in the short term, in terms of slowing down a competitor, the precedent it sets for us is much, much worse for us as a business in the long term.”
President Trump issued an executive order in early August that would ban TikTok in the U.S. unless it could find a U.S.-based company to buy its business in the U.S. TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, spurring concerns that the Chinese government could have access to personal data from U.S. users. TikTok has consistently denied that it has given or would give that data to China.
TikTok was on the cusp of announcing a deal to sell its businesses in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand to either Oracle or a joint bid from Microsoft and Walmart, CNBC previously reported. But the potential deal has been stalled following a Chinese order that would require a government license to export artificial intelligence technology. TikTok has until Sept. 20 to make a deal or face the ban. Trump said on Thursday that the deadline still stands.
Instagram last month launched Reels, its in-app short-form video feature, in an effort to compete with the rapidly growing TikTok, as TikTok grappled with the potential ban in the U.S. Reels could emerge as a TikTok replacement, since the apps are similar in design and user experience. Mosseri said that the company is seeing rapid user growth in India, which banned TikTok in June.
But Mosseri stressed that the inconsistent policies across various countries would cause more harm than good. China has already banned a bulk of U.S. social media apps, including Facebook and Instagram. The U.S. now could ban TikTok and WeChat, causing a split in the internet.
“I’m actually not enjoying this at all, although some people think it’s going to be very good for us. I actually think it’s going to be very bad for us over the next maybe five or 10 years,” Mosseri said.