Facebook resorts to old smear tactics against TikTok

WASHINGTON — Eleven years ago, Facebook was caught red-handed after hiring a major public relations firm to try to publish articles harshly criticizing Google’s privacy practices in major news outlets.

In 2018, he hired PR firm Definers to do opposition research on critics of the company, including billionaire philanthropist George Soros. Longtime corporate communications manager Elliot Schrage took responsibility for approving the hiring of Definers and similar companies and quit Facebook.

On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that Meta, Facebook’s parent company, is using similar tactics to go after another TikTok rival. Meta, the Post reported, hired a Republican consulting firm called Targeted Victory to “orchestrate a national campaign” against TikTok.

Targeted Victory, according to the Post, has contracts with dozens of PR firms across the United States to help “sway public opinion against TikTok” by running local stories and helping place op-eds. targeting TikTok nationwide, according to the story.

Meta confirmed to have hired Targeted Victory.

“We believe all platforms, including TikTok, should be given the scrutiny consistent with their growing success,” spokesperson Andy Stone said in a statement.

Zac Moffatt, CEO of Targeted Victory, said the company “manages bipartisan teams on behalf of our clients.”

“It is common knowledge that we have worked with Meta for several years and we are proud of the work we have done,” he said in a statement.

The Post obtained internal emails from Targeted Victory describing a campaign to undermine TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance. The company used a mixture of “genuine concerns and unfounded anxieties” about TikTok in an attempt to turn public and political sentiment against it.

According to the report, Targeted Victory was also working to get “proactive coverage” of Facebook in local media, including “submitting letters and op-eds speaking enthusiastically about Facebook’s role, for example, in the support for black-owned businesses”.

“We are deeply concerned that feeding local media reports of alleged trends not found on the platform may cause real-world harm,” TikTok said in a statement sent. by e-mail.

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