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Meta Paid Campaign to Make TikTok Black

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Facebook mother Meta has paid a consultancy firm to set up a campaign against TikTok. Salient detail: many of the ‘dangers’ that the company highlighted about TikTok are said to have originated from Facebook itself.


Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, has traditionally kept the competition at bay by buying or copying them (in the case of Snapchat). However, TikTok, which has become extremely popular in recent months, does not seem to be able to do that. That is why the tech giant hired the services of Targeted Victory. According to The Washington Post newspaper, this consultancy mainly does work for the Republican party in the US.

The aim was to set up a campaign to turn public opinion against TikTok and convince them that the social media app is a danger to children. That says the newspaper on the basis of internal e-mails. The idea was supposed to be that, while Meta was often criticized, TikTok was the “real danger,” not least because the app originated outside the US.

The consultancy would do this by using stories in the media about potentially dangerous trends on TikTok. The negative stories that emerged were also inflated on social media, and the consultants lobbied local politicians to take action against TikTok, always with the idea that this would protect children.

Targeted Victory tells the paper it has worked for Facebook but declined to comment on the content. Meta, for its part, responds that it believes all platforms should be watched and is concerned about the coverage of TikTok.

Social media such as TikTok have a significant influence on their audiences, and the movie site does indeed fend off misinformation, not least about the current war in Ukraine. However, that does not alter the fact that, ironically, Meta is setting up a campaign about its danger to children. For example, around the time Targeted Victory began collecting stories, whistleblower Frances Haugen revealed that Meta’s daughter Instagram knew from her own research that it could profoundly negatively impact teenage girls’ self-esteem, including eating disorders suicidal tendencies. And that it didn’t do enough to protect children.

Also, not unimportant. Many of the “trends” on which Targeted Victory based its campaign was not real. At least some of it, including a “challenge” to hit your teacher, turned out to be based not so much on TikTok trends as on false rumours the consultancy found… on Facebook.

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