Meta Reportedly Paid Republican Firm to Push Message TikTok is a Threat

The owner of Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms reportedly paid a notable republican consulting firm to create overall public distrust in TikTok and pose it as “the real threat” in a nationwide campaign.

Meta is being called out for the campaign, launched by the Republican strategy firm Targeted Victory. The campaign placed op-eds and letters to the editor in publications nationwide, which accused the competitor social media platform TikTok of being a “danger” to American children, as well as other disparaging accusations. 

The concept behind the campaign was to push messaging that while Meta was the “current punching bag,” it was actually TikTok that was “the real threat,” especially as “a foreign-owned app” that is currently ranked number one in sharing data that teens are using. This is according to an email written by a director for Targeted Victory.

Another staff member at Targeted Victor said that the campaign’s “dream” would be to get headlines in publications like ‘From dances to danger: how TikTok has become the most harmful social media space for kids.” 

Campaign operatives promoted stories to local media, and they included unsubstantiated claims, for example, that TikTok was tied to dangerous trends among teenagers. Those trends actually originated on Facebook. This includes the 2021 viral “devious lick” trend, where students vandalized school property. 

But Targeted Victory pushed out stories on the “devious lick” to local publications in several states, including Washington DC, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, and Rhode Island, claiming it was TikTok’s fault. 

Targeted Victory also used anti-TikTok messages to deflect criticisms facing Meta that the company was receiving for its privacy and antitrust policies. 

The national influence campaign not only promoted dubious stories but also pushed local politicians and political reporters to join in the fight against TikTok. 

Meta has not issued any semblance of an apology and instead has said that all social media apps deserve scrutiny.

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