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Facebook Funded A PR Campaign Against TikTok: Will TV Networks Do The Same?

Starting in the late 1950s and 1960s, child psychologists and other scientists began to issue warnings about the harmful effects of TV viewing on children.

Does this sound familiar -- in light of some recent attacks on social media?

This comes to light as a paid Facebook campaign, using public relations firm Targeted Victory, looked to place negative stories in publications about TikTok-- the short-form video/social media app -- being harmful for children.

Facebook continues to face scrutiny over its content, including misinformation, manipulation, and hateful speech that has appeared on its site.

For decades -- long before social media, the internet, and all the rest -- TV has also looked inward when it comes to the impact of harmful viewing exposure on kids -- even way back in the 1950s.

Research in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, for example, published in 1961, titled “The Effects of Aggressive Cartoons on Children’s Aggressive Play,” examined the impact of specific child-oriented programming.

Another piece of research published in 1958 in the Journal Of Broadcasting -- “The Effect on Parental Buying Habits of Children Exposed to Children's Television Programs” --  examined marketing efforts directed at adult consumers via kids TV viewing.

It's no surprise that media -- like other businesses -- can be extremely competitive.

The early days of TV must have put magazine, newspaper, and radio advertising executives on the defensive.

Competitive sales efforts have been in existence for decades -- pitting one media platform against another. But much of this revolved around the effectiveness of the business and advertising of the media.

Public interest groups and organizations dedicated to child and adolescent mental health continue to warn of kids' exposure to violent or inappropriate content.

We don't know what, if any, outside business-related financial support some groups have received when it comes to these efforts.

Facebook's PR-backed effort against TikTok positions itself with the view that if you are going to attack us, why not look at all social media the same way?

“We believe all platforms, including TikTok, should face a level of scrutiny consistent with their growing success,” a Meta representative said, according to reports.

Well, that makes a point. Media is far from perfect. Some TV networks continue to highlight “family-friendly” content as a respite from all the bad stuff on the screen.

What about gentler, kinder efforts? You might wonder whether in the future, media competitors will move on to cite when some harmful issues are remedied.

Keep dreaming.

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