Facebook’s OWNER, Meta, hired a consulting firm to carry out a campaign that denigrated rival TikTok. This is according to a Washington Post report on Wednesday (31/3), which was partially confirmed by AFP.
The campaign reportedly included placing posts in US headlines and promoting negative stories about TikTok. He allegedly used the kind of tough tactics familiar with Washington politics.
Meta, which lost hundreds of billions in value earlier this year due to doubts about its future, is in a fierce battle against the video-sharing platform popular with young social media fans. “We believe all platforms, including TikTok, should face a level of scrutiny consistent with their growing success,” Meta told AFP in a one-line statement in response to the article.
The consulting firm, Targeted Victory, confirmed it had worked for Meta and did not deny it had submitted negative information about TikTok. “We are proud of the work we have done to highlight the dangers of TikTok,” tweeted the company’s CEO Zac Moffatt.
Employees at Targeted Victory work to undermine TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance. They promoted the effort by portraying TikTok as a danger to America’s children, the Post reported, citing internal company emails.
The Post cites one message that says Targeted Victory needs to convey the message that while Meta is like a punching bag nowadays. “TikTok poses a real threat especially as the #1 foreign-owned app for sharing data that young teens use.”
One of the reported attempts included getting parents to sign a letter expressing concern that was sent to a US newspaper. Some of the newspapers published it.
Targeted Victory also warned elected officials and journalists about the alleged trend on TikTok that encourages students to damage their school environment, known as the ‘devious licks’ or ‘slap a teacher’ challenge. The challenge urging young users to attack teachers didn’t start on TikTok, but on Facebook. This is according to an investigation by the Reply All podcast. But investigators couldn’t find any videos on this topic on TikTok.
“We are deeply concerned that the retention of local media reports about alleged undiscovered trends on the platform could cause real-world damage,” TikTok told AFP in a statement.
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Moffatt, CEO of Targeted Victory, also argued the Post article “misrepresented the work we do,” citing examples including the characterization of people signing letters sent to newspapers. (AFP/OL-14)