Facebook's parent company Meta is financially lobbying efforts to take down its Chinese competitor — TikTok, The Washington Post has learned, citing internal emails from one of the consulting firms.
According to the report, the push involves publishing compromised stories in regional news outlets about TikTok's reputation. The whole list of lobbying firms is known, however, one of the firms called Targeted Victory was reportedly portraying TikTok as a "danger to American children and society," the report notes.
A director of the firm — whose name remains undisclosed — called on employees in a February email to make a picture that TikTok is a "real threat especially as a foreign owned app that is #1 in sharing data that young teens are using." A Targeted Victory staffer added:
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.
In other emails, Targeted Victory required staff to promote stories on local media emphasizing that TikTok endorses dangerous teen trends:
Any local examples of bad TikTok trends/stories in your markets?
A spokesperson for Meta Andy Stone said that the social network believes that all platforms, including TikTok, should "face a level of scrutiny consistent with their growing success."
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At the same time, a TikTok spokesperson said the company is "deeply concerned” about "the stoking of local media reports on alleged trends that have not been found on the platform." It's unclear though if Meta is still Targeted Victory's client on the matter.