According to a source, Facebook’s parent company Meta is paying one of the country’s largest Republican consulting firms to fuel a distrust campaign against TikTok.
Targeted Victory, a Republican consulting firm, launched the campaign, which circulated op-eds and letters to editors in numerous magazines condemning the platform of being a risk to American children, among other derogatory claims.
Targeted Victory is one of the most well-known Republican campaign marketing firms. In 2020, the firm received more than $230 million from conservative groups such as the pro-Trump super PAC and America First Action. A Targeted Victory director was reported in the paper as saying:
Spread the word that, while Meta is the current punching bag, TikTok is the true threat, especially as a foreign-owned software that is the most popular way for young kids to share data.
The campaign promoted reports in local media about dubious and irrational TikTok trends, including some unproven allegations linking the platform to allegedly dangerous teen trends. The viral 2021 “devious lick” fad, in which students destroyed school property, was one of these phenomena. These stories about “devious lick” were distributed by Targeted Victory to local publications in Michigan, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Washington, DC. According to an inquiry by Anna Foley of the podcast Reply All, the trend started on Facebook.
Anti-TikTok statements were also utilised by campaign workers to deflect concerns that Meta has received regarding its privacy and antitrust rules. With the expanding popularity of TikTok in the United States, Facebook has been losing daily active users for quite some time.