Facebook paid a US ‘lobby’ to spread false information about TikTok, according to investigation

MADRID, 1 Apr. (Portaltic/EP) –

The parent company of Facebook, Meta, would have hired a Republican ‘lobby’ in the United States to create a national fake news campaign about the dangers of using the social network TikTok.

According to The Washington Post, Facebook paid the Republican consulting firm Targeted Victory to publish opinion pieces and letters to the editor in major regional media outlets to undermine its main competitor of Chinese origin, owned by ByteDance.

This has been confirmed by several employees of Targeted Victorywho have leaked a series of emails to this medium to show that they developed a media campaign to alert younger American users of the dangers of using the application.

One of those emails includes the declaration of intent from one of the directors of this Republican lobby group, who noted that TikTok is the “number one app for sharing data from the youth and teens who use it.”

In this disinformation campaign, members of Targeted Victory were also encouraged to highlight that, due to the rise of TikTokthe platform was managing to divert attention from the measures carried out by Meta in terms of privacy and antitrust.

In other emails, this Republican ‘lobby’ urged its partners and employees to filter alleged behaviors in the local media risks associated with TikTok that could put teens at risk.

In relation to this, The Washington Post reports that a spokesperson for the Chinese platform indicated that TikTok was “deeply concerned” about “the revival of local media reports about alleged trends” that had not been noticed on its platform.

From this newspaper they have reported that Targeted Victory has refused to clarify more details about the campaign and has only indicated that is “proud” of the work that he has done during the years that he has been collaborating with Meta.

‘FAKE NEWS’ AND NEGATIVE COVERAGES

To proceed with this false coverage, Targeted Victory created a document called ‘Bad TikTok Clips’ in which was including local news links of questionable credibility citing TikTok as the source of dangerous teen trends.

One of those stories was related to a challenge called ‘tortuous licking’ and that came to local media from different North American states, such as Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Washington DC and Rhode Island.

However, according to research by Gimlet Podcast Network Producer Anna Foley, rumors of these challenges began on Facebook and not TikTok.

Another of the challenges that supposedly existed in TikTok and that from this ‘lobby’ they expanded by alleged orders from Facebook to different media it is to slap a teacher, which did not happen on the Chinese platform.

Due to the spread of news like this, Connecticut Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal wrote a letter asking the executives of the Chinese platform to testify before the Senate subcommittee.

On the other hand, The Washington Post has highlighted in this article that, while Targeted Victory worked for the technology company, several regional media outlets published articles praising the virtues of Facebooksuch as its efforts to support and integrate Black-owned businesses on its platform.

Among some of the examples highlighted in these media is the publication in the Denver Post of a letter to the editor supposedly orchestrated by this ‘lobby’. It stated that TikTok was detrimental to mental health of children and questioned their data privacy practices.

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