Meta reportedly hired a consulting firm to run a smear campaign against TikTok

Meta logo
Meta's new logo after being rebranded from Facebook (Image credit: Alex Dobie / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Meta is said to have hired a political consulting firm to smear its rival TikTok.
  • Targeted Victory reportedly ran a campaign positioning TikTok as a threat to young audiences.
  • The campaign highlighted viral trends that were considered harmful, though some of those videos originated on Facebook.

Meta's efforts to win back younger audiences to its platforms may have resulted in some desperate measures. The Washington Post (opens in new tab) reported that Facebook's parent company paid a consulting firm to drag TikTok through the mud.

According to the news outlet, Meta hired Targeted Victory to run a campaign in the U.S. involving op-eds and letters to the editor that portrayed TikTok as a threat to younger audiences. The goal was allegedly to turn the public against the video music platform.

A Meta representative didn't confirm or deny the report in an email to Android Central. "We believe all platforms, including TikTok, should face a level of scrutiny consistent with their growing success," the spokesperson said.

The Post claimed that it had obtained emails detailing how the campaign unfolded. The consultants reportedly promoted stories to regional news outlets spotlighting harmful trends that went viral on TikTok, though some of those videos actually originated on Facebook.

Targeted Victory also allegedly ran op-eds that criticized TikTok for its impact on children’s mental health. The campaign appeared to have paid off. Last month, a group of state attorneys general launched a multistate probe (opens in new tab) into the platform’s potential mental health threats to children and young adults.

TikTok was not immediately available to comment as of this writing, but a company spokesperson told the Post that it's concerned over the promotion of local news stories erroneously blaming TikTok for the harmful trends.

The emails reveal how Meta's attempt to steal younger eyeballs from its rival has led to dirty tricks. It initially launched Instagram Reels on the best Android phones (opens in new tab) and iOS devices before bringing the feature to the Facebook app globally (opens in new tab) earlier this year. Meta went on to clone some of TikTok's headline features (opens in new tab).

It's not surprising given that the ByteDance-owned platform has become one of its biggest rivals, as well as Google's (opens in new tab).

Jay Bonggolto
News Writer

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.