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Meta funded a smear campaign against TikTok

Facebook has neither confirmed nor denied the information from the Washington Post. (Photo: 123RF)

Meta (ex-Facebook) has hired a lobbying firm to launch a smear campaign against TikTok, its most threatening competitor in the world of social networks, according to information from the Washington Post partially confirmed by those concerned.

Asked by AFP, the firm, Targeted Victory, which regularly collaborates with organizations linked to the Republican Party, confirmed that it worked for Meta and did not deny having put forward negative information on TikTok.

According to the Washington Post, the recent campaign consisted in particular in publishing forums highlighting the abuses observed on the platform and the damage they could cause for its young users.

The firm also allegedly convinced parents to sign letters raising the same concerns and then sent them to the readers’ mail of several regional dailies, some of which published them.

Targeted Victory also alerted local elected officials and journalists from the regional press to movements relayed on TikTok which encouraged students to vandalize the premises of their schools (“devious licks”) or hit their teachers (“slap your teacher challenge”).

However, it turns out that the movement inviting young users to attack their teachers did not start on TikTok, but on Facebook, according to a survey carried out by the podcast “Reply All”, the investigator having no , by the way, not found any trace of videos on this topic on TikTok.

“We are deeply concerned about pushing local media to report on trends that are not on the platform, which could cause very real damage,” a TikTok spokeswoman said.

“We believe that all platforms, including TikTok, must be subject to monitoring adapted to their success”, estimated, for its part, in a reaction sent to AFP, Facebook, which has neither confirmed nor denied the information of the Washington Post.

“It is common knowledge that we have collaborated with Meta for years and we are proud of the work that we have done for them,” commented to AFP Zac Moffatt, general manager of Targeted Victory, which is part of the group of communications and of marketing The Stagwell Group.

In a series of tweets, Zac Moffatt claimed the Washington Post article “misrepresents the work we do.”

The executive also maintained that the letters sent to the daily newspapers were well written by the people who had signed them, even if he did not dispute the fact that Targeted Victory had been involved in their preparation.

Contacted by AFP, the people mentioned did not respond.

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