TikTok has grown past Instagram in India, is what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said as part of an internal question and answer sessions, for which audio recordings and a full transcript have leaked online. The Verge first posted the text along audio files from this internal Q&A and has followed it up with a full transcript of the same.
Interestingly, Zuckerberg has also shared link to the full transcript on his personal Facebook page, noting that “even though it was meant to be internal rather than public, now that it’s out there, you can check it out if you’re interested in seeing an unfiltered version of what I’m thinking and telling employees…” The transcript has full details of Zuckerberg’s views on Libra, rivals like TikTok, the topic of breaking up big tech companies– an idea floated by US Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren— among other topics.
When it comes to TikTok, Zuckerberg acknowledged that it is growing really quickly in India and starting to do well in US as well, adding, “I think it’s past Instagram now in India in terms of scale. So yeah, it’s a very interesting phenomenon.”
He then went on to compare TikTok to the Explore Tab on Instagram and said it was like “Explore for stories, and that were the whole app.” In response to TikTok, Zuckerberg said Facebook has an app called Lasso which is going to countries like Mexico first, and they would also try to see if Lasso can compete against TikTok in countries where the app has already become big.
In India, Tik Tok claims to have 120 million monthly active customers, going by a last public statement from the Byte-dance owned company. In comparison, Instagram is believed to have 70 million users in India, though Facebook has not specified the exact number.
Zuckerberg also spoke about the changes to Instagram in order to help it compete with TikTok. It should be remembered Facebook copies Snapchat’s popular Stories format starting with Instagram, and later rolled this out to Messenger, Facebook and WhatsApp as well.
“We’re taking a number of approaches with Instagram, including making it so that Explore is more focused on stories, which is increasingly becoming the primary way that people consume content on Instagram, as well as a couple of other things there,” he said.
But Zuckerberg has admitted that “have time to learn and understand and get ahead of the trend,” when it comes to TikTok, adding that “their retention is actually not that strong after they stop advertising.”
The Facebook CEO also spoke about Libra, which is the company’s crypto-currency that they plan to launch by 2020. He also mentioned that WhatsApp payments testing in India, which has been going on for some time, though it is unclear when the service will full roll out.
“Finance is a very heavily regulated space. There’s a lot of important issues that need to be dealt with in preventing money laundering, preventing financing of terrorists and people who the different governments say you can’t do business with. There are a lot of requirements on knowing who your customers are,” Zuckerberg said.
He said Facebook wants to address all the concerns and get this right, and adding that the company will also work on private engagements with regulators around the world. He also said these engagements will be “substantive and less dramatic,” than public hearing.
He also admitted Facebook will face similar pushback on other topics like its move toward more encryption across messaging apps. “That will, over time, be very sensitive when we get closer to rolling it out. Law enforcement, obviously, is not going to be psyched about that. But we think it’s the right thing to protect people’s privacy more, so we’ll go defend that when the time is right,” he said.
Regarding the breakup of big tech, he admitted this will be a legal challenge if Warren gets elected, though he said he was confident they would “win the legal challenge.”
“I don’t want to have a major lawsuit against our own government. I mean, that’s not the position that you want to be in when you’re… if someone’s going to try to threaten something that existential, you go to the mat and you fight,” he said in the meeting.