In the world of social media, the latest and greatest thing is where all the cool kids gravitate. So it is with TikTok, a Chinese-owned micro-video platform that teens are using to great advantage, and with which the people at META (Facebook) may well be taking a revenue hit through decreased advertising hits.
So, META hired a “consulting firm” (really, a public relations agency by another name) to bad mouth TikTok.
Meta has hired a top GOP consulting firm to gin up rage against TikTok and deflect political scrutiny away from Facebook and Instagram, according to a report on Wednesday.
The consulting firm, Targeted Victory, pushed 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,” according to an internal email from February reported by the Washington Post.
Targeted Victory reportedly advanced Meta’s agenda by pushing news stories blaming dangerous online trends such as the “slap a teacher challenge” on TikTok — even though the trend actually originated on Facebook.
The group also helped place op-eds and letters to the editor in local papers like the Denver Post and Des Moines Register, raising concerns about China “deliberately collecting behavioral data on our kids,” according to the report.
Anyone with a background in communications recognizes that as a public relations (the nice name for propaganda) campaign. The reality is that Facebook is not getting the number of sign-ups they were expecting in order to collect that same behavioral data on the kids. Therefore, TikTok must be destroyed.
Targeted Victory’s mandate from Meta appeared to be twofold: stop TikTok from drawing users from Instagram and Facebook while also sapping support for antitrust lawsuits and bills targeting Meta.
“Bonus point if we can fit this into a broader message that the current bills/proposals aren’t where [state attorneys general] or members of Congress should be focused,” one Targeted Victory staffer wrote in an email obtained by the newspaper.
Targeted Victory’s CEO Zac Moffatt, who previously worked as digital director of Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, told The New York Post he is “working on a list of points where the [Washington Post’s] reporting was inaccurate or just totally wrong.”
“Targeted Victory’s corporate practice manages bipartisan teams on behalf of our clients,” Moffatt added. “It is public knowledge we have worked with Meta for several years and we are proud of the work we have done.”
We’ll see what comes of that. In the meantime, it looks like all the cool kids are shunning Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg is none too happy about it.
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