Meta’s sketchy strategy to battle TikTok

Meta hired a political consulting firm to coordinate a nationwide media campaign against TikTok.

It’s no secret TikTok scares the sh*t out of Zuck.

One way Meta’s tried to stifle TikTok’s rise is by doing exactly what it did to Snap — copying features (AKA Reels, Instagram’s far inferior TikTok clone). But if you think that’s dirty — just wait.

According to The Washington Post, Meta hired a political consulting firm to launch a calculated effort against TikTok through a range of media plays.

What kind of plays?

The firm, Targeted Victory, helped Meta work with PR groups nationwide to plant anti-TikTok campaigns in local news outlets.

The work included:

  • Highlighting TikTok as a threatening foreign-owned app that collects and shares data on American teens
  • Pushing stories tying TikTok to dangerous teen behavior, including the “devious licks” challenge, which encouraged teens to steal all kinds of wild objects from schools (further reading).
  • Spreading rumors of a “Slap a Teacher TikTok challenge,” which never actually existed on the platform and started on Facebook

The firm also spread positive messages about Meta’s properties, including stories about Facebook’s moves to support Black-owned businesses.

Meta is no stranger to lobbying

The firm spends $20m+ per year on federal lobbying efforts — more than all but 6 companies and industry groups.

Now, TikTok isn’t exactly an innocent victim. Former employees claim the company is tightly controlled by ByteDance, its Chinese parent company, which the Chinese government recently took an ownership stake in. Reports also highlight the use of TikTok influencers to push Chinese propaganda.

But with your average TikTok user spending 3x the time in the app each month compared to Instagram (~26 hours vs. 8 hours), it makes sense why Zuck is hell-bent on escaping to the metaverse.

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