TikTok has said it is “deeply concerned” by reports that Facebook’s parent company Meta paid for a campaign to promote negative coverage of the Chinese tech platform.
As first reported by The Washington Post, Meta hired a “right of center” marketing firm Targeted Victory to lead a campaign about its biggest rival.
This included placing op-eds and letters to the editor in local papers to promote anti-TikTok sentiment, as well as swaying campaigns away from Facebook’s privacy and antitrust news following Frances Haugen’s explosive whistleblowing last autumn.
Targeted Victory were hired by Zuckerberg’s firm to undermine the reputation of TikTok, portraying it as a threat to American children, according to emails shared with The Washington Post.
Targeted Victory needs 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,” a director for the firm wrote in an email seen by the paper.
It comes as TikTok continues to chip away at Meta’s social media primacy, which was reflected in its most recent results.
In an internal report shared by Haugen, Facebook researchers found that teens were spending “2-3X more time” on TikTok than Instagram, showing how its popularity was slowly but surely dwindling.
A Meta spokesperson has reportedly defended the campaign and stated, “We believe all platforms, including TikTok, should face a level of scrutiny consistent with their growing success.”
Meanwhile, a TikTok spokesperson said the company was “deeply concerned” by the revelations.