Image Source: Yahoo News
Meta allegedly hired a political consulting agency to “undermine” TikTok, according to the CEO of a political consulting business.
Internal emails obtained by the Washington Post purportedly stated that Targeted Victory’s campaign was intended to portray TikTok as a “threat to American youth.” The Post’s piece, according to Zac Moffatt, mischaracterizes their findings and “major elements are plain wrong.” The media asked Meta for comment. “We feel that all platforms, including TikTok, should receive a degree of scrutiny commensurate with their rising popularity,” a spokeswoman said.
Push the Paper
According to the Post writers, the “bare-knuckle” strategy reportedly includes “pushing false articles about claimed TikTok trends that began on Facebook” via opinion pieces and letters to the editor on US regional news sites. According to the article, none of the opinion pieces or letters to the editor disclosed that a Meta-funded organization pushed them. Mr. Moffat tweeted in reaction to the report, saying: “The narrative implies that the writers did not write the letters to the editor themselves and that they were unaware of Meta’s participation. That is untrue. They will confirm that.” According to the publication, Target Victory allegedly pressured its partners to obtain reports from local media linking TikTok to harmful tendencies in internal emails. One Targeted Victory staff member reportedly stated in an email shared by the Post, “Dream would be to generate articles with titles like ‘From dances to danger: how TikTok has become the most detrimental social media environment for kids.”
Image source: Sahara Reporters
According to the article, targeted Victory allegedly urged agents to publicize allegations of harmful TikTok trends. It included stories of a rumored Slap a Teacher challenge, which an investigation by news site Insider showed did not exist, and a rumored Devious Licks challenge, which promoted destruction to school property. According to the Post, journalistic investigations revealed that reports about both challenges started to circulate on Facebook. Following the posting of the video, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, a significant US teaching organization, accused Facebook of fueling the fires of Devious Licks and terrified “teachers, students, and parents throughout America as a consequence.” TikTok itself mirrored these concerns. “We are genuinely concerned that the fueling of local media stories on supposed patterns that have not been discovered on the platform might cause real-world damage,” the business told the BBC in reaction to the piece. In response to the piece, technology writer Casey Newton wrote in his newsletter Platformer that the impact extended beyond discomfort and risked motivating individuals to tackle the ostensibly tricky problems. He added, “Even the possibility that Meta inspired such copycats should have been enough to destroy this project while still being white-boarded.” Mr. Moffatt claimed on Twitter that The Post had reported on the alleged TikTok challenges.
Public Relations Tactics
Targeted Victory bills itself as “right-of-center,” but Mr. Moffatt claims the company manages “bipartisan teams.” Following charges that the company altered its Trending Topics function to boost “progressive” ideas, Mr. Moffatt met with Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in 2016 as a group of high-profile conservative leaders. The work of Mr. Moffatt with Meta has now become the center of attention. Unfortunately, it isn’t the first time the practices of organizations hired by the social media juggernaut have been called into question. The New York Times disclosed strategies employed by Definers, a public relations firm hired by Facebook, in 2018. According to the article, the business disseminated a document falsely alleging that the investor George Soros sponsored the anti-Facebook campaign organization Freedom from Facebook. Mr. Zuckerberg said that he was unaware of the Definers’ activity and that the business would no longer collaborate with them.