Meta Reportedly Financed ‘Bare-Knuckle’ Campaign Against Tiktok: “From Dances To Danger”

Meta Platforms’ (Nasdaq: FB) paid Republican consulting firm Targeted Victory to push a campaign that communicates TikTok as the “real threat” to young teens.

In a The Washington Post piece, the campaign is said to use “bare-knuckle” tactics to malign the Chinese social media giant “as a danger to American children and society.” This includes placing op-eds and letters to the editor in news outlets, promoting stories about supposedly harmful TikTok trends, and lobbying reporters and politicians into bringing the social media giant down.

“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’,” according to one of the campaign directors.

According to an email shared with The Washington Post, one of the firm’s directors said the task for them is to “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.”

TikTok found a resurgence in popularity during the pandemic, leading to rivaling Meta’s Facebook in the number of hours spent on its platform by its users.

One of the supposed TikTok challenges that Targeted Victory worked on is the “Slap a Teacher TikTok challenge”, promoting the story on local news outfits. However, no challenge apparently exists and the rumor started on Facebook’s platform.

The consulting firm also rode on isolated negative sentiments against TikTok and amplified these as part of the orchestrated campaign. One of the examples is a letter to the editor published in Denver Post from a concerned new parent about the supposed harm caused by the social media platform to children’s mental health. A similar letter to the editor also ran on the same day in Des Moines Register, penned by Mary McAdams, chair of the Ankeny Area Democrats, whose name “will carry a lot of weight with legislators and stakeholders” according to a Targeted Victory director in an email.

Both letters called on their respective attorneys general to pursue an investigation on TikTok.

Source: Denver Post
Source: Des Moines Register

After the article was published, Targeted Victory CEO Zac Moffatt explained their side on Twitter, claiming the Washington Post piece “not only mischaracterizes the work [they] do, but key points are simply false.”

In particular, Moffatt belied that the letters to the editor highlighted by the article were not of the authors’.

“The story infers that the words of the letters to the editor were not the authors’ own, nor did they know of Meta’s involvement,” said Moffatt. “That is false. They will confirm that. We had hoped to not have them included in this manufactured story out of respect for their personal privacy.”

Moffatt also said that the rumored challenges that supposedly originated from Facebook were actually reported by Washington Post itself.

“Targeted Victory’s corporate practice manages bipartisan teams on behalf of our clients. It is public knowledge we have worked with Meta for several years…,” said Moffatt. “We’re proud of the work we’ve done to highlight the dangers of TikTok.”

When asked for comment, a Meta spokesperson said: “We believe all platforms, including TikTok, should face a level of scrutiny consistent with their growing success.”

On the other hand, a TikTok spokesperson said the firm expressed deep concern about “the stoking of local media reports on alleged trends that have not been found on the platform.”

Meta Platforms last traded at US$222.36 on the Nasdaq.

Information for this briefing was found via the companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

One thought on “Meta Reportedly Financed ‘Bare-Knuckle’ Campaign Against Tiktok: “From Dances To Danger”

  • April 1, 2022 3:22 PM at 3:22 pm

    What’s that you were saying, Zac, about a “manufactured story?”


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