Facebook’s parent company, Meta, has been paying one of the most prominent Republican consulting firms to run a national campaign to sow distrust of one of the company’s main competitors, TikTok, according to a new report. from washington post on Wednesday.
The company, Targeted Victory, allegedly planted op-eds and letters to the editor in major local and regional newspapers across the country. A director of Targeted Victory told staff that the company needed to “get the message across 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 used by adolescents”. according to emails obtained by The charge.
News of Facebook’s decision to hire the firm comes just weeks after the company declared it was losing users for the first time in its 18-year history. Meta’s recent earnings report said Facebook’s active users were down by nearly 500,000 at the end of last year.
Several of the Targeted Victory op-eds contained links to negative news about TikTok and were often written by influential figures and politicians in the community, including Democrats. The charge reported that none of the columns revealed their connection to the Facebook-funded firm.
In recent years, Congress has criticized Facebook for allegedly having an illegal monopoly in the social media industry. During a 2020 hearing with tech chief executives, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, lawmakers cited internal company documents that suggested Zuckerberg would go “destruction mode” if Instagram, a then-nascent competitor, refused to be sold to the social media giant.
“When the dominant platform threatens its potential rivals, that shouldn’t be normal business practice,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) said at the time.
Targeted Victory is one of the largest providers of Republican campaigns. In 2020, the company earned more than $230 million, and its biggest clients were from groups like the pro-Trump super PAC, America First Action. Republicans have been some of the harshest critics of TikTok. legislators as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) have pushed for the app to be investigated for censorship, and former President Donald Trump signed an executive order to ban it altogether.
In the end, the order went nowhere and President Joe Biden revoked it last year.