Ten years ago, Facebook was caught red-handed after a public relations firm planted stories in leading news outlets criticizing Google’s privacy practices. Definers, a public relations firm, did opposition research on the company’s critics, including George Soros, in 2018. Facebook’s former head of communications, Elliot Schrage, took the blame for hiring companies like Definers and left the company.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Meta, the parent company of Facebook, is using similar tactics to take on another rival, TikTok. Targeted Victory, a conservative consulting firm, is helping Meta launch a campaign against TikTok, according to the Post. According to the Post, Targeted Victory contracted with dozens of public relations firms in the US to help ‘sway public opinion against TikTok’ by planting news stories and placing op-eds about TikTok across the country, the story says. Targeted Victory has been hired by Meta.
The company’s spokesman Andy Stone said in a statement that all platforms, including TikTok, should be scrutinized based on their success. Targeted Victory CEO Zac Moffatt said that the company manages bipartisan teams on behalf of its clients. “It is common knowledge that we have worked with Meta for a number of years, which we are proud of,” Moffatt said in a statement.
Targeted Victory provided The Post with internal emails detailing a campaign to undermine TikTok, which is owned by ByteDance of China. To turn public and political sentiment against TikTok, the firm used a combination of legitimate concerns and unfounded anxieties.
The report states that Targeted Victory worked with local media to get ‘proactive coverage’ about Facebook, including “submitting letters and opinion pieces exalting Facebook’s role as an example of supporting Black-owned businesses.”
In an emailed statement, TikTok stated, “We are deeply concerned that the stoking of local media reports on trend alleged to exist on the platform may cause real world harm.”.