According to a Washington Post report based on an internal email from February, 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 use.”
Despite the fact that the “slap a teacher challenge” originated on Facebook, Targeted Victory allegedly pushed Meta’s mission by pushing news pieces that blamed TikTok for hazardous internet phenomena like them, such as the “slap a teacher challenge.”
Op-eds and letters to the editor were also placed by the group in local publications including Denver Post and Des Moines Register, voicing concerns about China “deliberately gathering behavioral data on our children,” according to the article.
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Because of Facebook’s slowing user growth, which has led to a 32.5 percent drop in its stock price this year, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has placed the blame on TikTok.
Zuckerberg stated on an earnings call in February that “people have a lot of alternatives for how they want to spend their time” and that “apps like TikTok are expanding extremely quickly.”
To stop TikTok from stealing users from Instagram and Facebook, Meta seemed to want Targeted Victory to do two things: stop antitrust lawsuits and bills against Meta from getting a lot of support.
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“Bonus points if we can include this into a broader messaging that [state attorneys general] and members of Congress should not be concentrating their efforts on the present bills/proposals,” one Targeted Victory staffer said in an email obtained by the newspaper.
CEO Zac Moffatt of Targeted Victory, who formerly served as digital director for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, told The New York Post that he is “working on a list of points where the [Washington Post’s] article was erroneous or simply completely wrong.”
In addition, Moffatt stated that “Targeted Victory’s corporate practice oversees bipartisan teams on behalf of our customers.” The fact that we have worked with Meta for several years is well known, and we are proud of the job that we have accomplished together.”
He also cited a number of headlines from the Washington Post from 2021 that linked viral trends — such as the “slap a teacher challenge” — to the video-sharing app TikTok.
According to Moffatt, in a Twitter thread, “These viral tales regarding TikTok that they claim [sic] are ‘rumors’ were actually covered by their own newspaper, some of which were published more than six months ago.”
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The business, according to a TikTok representative, is “very concerned that the fueling of local media reports on supposed trends that have not been detected on the platform may create real world harm.”
“We feel that all platforms, including TikTok, should be subjected to a level of monitoring commensurate with their increasing popularity,” a Meta spokeswoman stated.
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