Meta, the parent company to Facebook, is paying one of the "biggest Republican consulting firms" in the U.S. to try and "turn the public against" online video app TikTok, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
The firm Targeted Victory has been working to "undermine" TikTok by implementing a national media and lobbying campaign that places "op-eds and letters to the editor in major regional news outlets, promoting dubious stories about alleged TikTok trends that actually originated on Facebook," the Post writes. The firm has also been pushing political reporters and local politicians to move against TikTok, Facebook's biggest competitor.
Operatives were "encouraged to use TikTok's prominence as a way to deflect from Meta's own privacy and antitrust concerns," the Post reports.
In one example, a Targeted Victory director wrote in a February email that the firm must "get the message out that while Meta is the current punching bag, TikTok is the real threat especially as a foreign owned app that is #1 in sharing data that young teens are using."
Other times, Targeted Victory urged partners to "push stories to local media tying TikTok to dangerous teen trends in an effort to show the app's purported harms."
"Dream would be to get stories with headlines like 'From dances to danger: how TikTok has become the most harmful social media space for kids,'" one staffer wrote to a partner.
Meta spokesperson Andy Stone stood by the Targeted Victory campaign, telling the Post, "We believe all platforms, including TikTok, should face a level of scrutiny consistent with their growing success."
TikTok, meanwhile, is "deeply concerned" about "the stoking of local media reports on alleged trends that have not been found on the platform." Read more at The Washington Post.