💩 Meta’s Own TikTok Challenge
Worried about what TikTok is doing to the Youth? To society? Some of that fear may be the result of a smear campaign funded by Facebook's parent company Meta. Recognizing the existential threat that TikTok poses to Facebook and Instagram, Meta hired GOP consulting firm Targeted Victory to drive negative coverage of the Chinese social media platform.
During a February earnings call, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg reported that the company had lost daily active users for the first time in its history (to the tune of 1 million), with teens using TikTok almost 3 times more than Instagram. “People have a lot of choices for how they want to spend their time, and apps like TikTok are growing very quickly,” Zuckerberg said, according to Ars Technica.
In addition to spreading negative stories about TikTok (it's giving personal data about American teens to the Chinese government!), Targeted Victory also spread positive ones about Meta (like its move to support Black-owned businesses), notes The Hustle.
A History Of Playing Dirty
Not only does Meta already spend $20 million a year on federal lobbying—presumably to skirt regulations and combat antitrust actions—but it famously copied its last competitor's product, Snapchat when it created Instagram Stories. Meta has been furiously trying to promote Instagram Reels, its clone of TikTok, but to significantly less success.
Meta’s tactics are obviously a below-the-belt jab at TikTok, but it remains unclear if they crossed any legal line. That being said, both Meta and ByteDance (TikTok’s parent company) have enormous war chests that could be deployed should this go to the courtroom.