Topic: Media Research Center
In March, the Washington Post reported that Facebook's owner, Meta, paid a Republican consulting firm called Targeted Victory to manufacture fear about competitor TikTok as a Chinese-owned app that is endangering teenage users, which included "placing op-eds and letters to the editor in major regional news outlets, promoting dubious stories about alleged TikTok trends that actually originated on Facebook, and pushing to draw political reporters and local politicians into helping take down its biggest competitor," as well as emphasizing TikTok's foreign ownership.
The Media Research Center didn't tell its readers about this developement -- probably because it was dancing to Facebook's tune. Here are some of the attacks on TikTok that the MRC issued in the months and years before the Post story came out -- stories that hewed close to Facebook's anti-TikTok narrative:
- Taking on ‘Goliath’! Montana AG Launches Investigation into Communist Chinese-Linked TikTok
- Biden Says Big Tech Should Protect Kids’ Privacy as Rubio Pushes Him about TikTok
- TikTok Sidesteps Privacy Protections to Share Data: Report
- NBCUniversal Partners with CCP-Linked TikTok to Promote Beijing Olympics
- China-Owned TikTok Settles Privacy Lawsuit After Collecting Massive User Data
- Senators Cruz, Blackburn and Sullivan SLAM TikTok for Ties to Communist China at Hearing
- WE MUST ACT: Rubio DEMANDS Biden Admin Block TikTok After CCP Obtains Stake
- China’s Communist Regime Takes Financial Stake in TikTok: Report
- Ashton Kutcher Warns Parents Against China’s TikTok Agenda
- TikTok’s Chinese Parent Company Has Unlimited Access to American Data
- Tick Tock? Hawley Brings Bill to Ban Chinese-Owned TikTok on Gov’t-Issued Devices — Again
- CNBC, Bloomberg News Shill for Communist China Bashing US Over TikTok
- WSJ: TikTok Exploits Google Privacy Loophole to Track Users Online
The MRC also enthusiastically shilled for the Trump administration'sattempts to ban TikTok in the U.S. or force its sale to a non-Chinese firm., which apaprently came in response to a campaign organized by TikTok users to snap up free tickets to a Trump rally in Oklahoma, which ended up being sparsely attended (which the MRC hated):
- Secretary Pompeo Eyes National Ban on Chinese-Controlled TikTok App
- Time’s Up for TikTok? GOP and Public Figures Call out Chinese App
- MSNBC's Katy Tur Suggests Trump Took On Tik Tok Threat as a 'Distraction'
- TikTok’s Time Just Ran Out: Trump Signs EO Banning Communist Chinese-Owned App
- TikTok to Sue Trump Admin, as Twitter Considers Buying Social Platform
- New Trump EO Turns Up Pressure on TikTok: Gives 90-Day Deadline for ByteDance to Divest
- TikTok Filing Complaint that Challenges Trump EO Banning App in US
When a federal judge blocked Trump's TikTok ban in September 2020, Kayla Sargent lamented it but optimistically claimed it was "thankfully, only temporarily." The Trump administration abandoned the ban completely after the presidential election Trump lost, Sargent returned to complain that it did so despite "serious national security concerns."
The MRC, by the way, is not unfamiliar with Targeted Victory. Both MRC chief Brent Bozell and Targeted Victory co-founder Zac Moffatt were among the attendees at a 2016 meeting between consercvative activists and Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, which took place after allegations that Facebook's news feed was biased against conservatives (which turned out to be overblown). But bozell and his right-wingers got what they wanted: to have Facebook afraid of doing anything that might anger them, even if it harmed Facebook's overall quality.
The MRC has never told is readers about how Facebook fed TikTok attacks to a GOP strategy firm, but it did keep up the attacks. An April 17 item by Autumn Johnson hyped how "The Department of Homeland Security reportedly investigated how TikTok handled material that detailed the sexual abuse of children," making sure to add that "The platform is designed to be popular among teenagers." Johnson failed to mention the Facebook smear campaign against TikTok.
This is the second time the MRC has been caught playing both sides of the war on "big tech" and secretly promoting Facebook talking points. We've already documented how the MRC attacked Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen at the same time that Facebook as a purported liberal activist (whose criticism of Facebook, not coincientially, got a lot more traction that the MRC's war on Facebook has) as Facebook was working behind the scenes to feed thosevery same attacks on Haugen to conservative groups.
The MRC has never public admitted that Facebook wrote its anti-Haugen script -- and it's certainly not going to admit that it was taking dictation from Facebook in attacking TikTok -- but the parallels are too obvious to dismiss.