TikTok responds to charges of antisemitism as it battles misinformation

A TikTok blog post, released Thursday, aims to dispel accusations that the social app is pushing a political agenda regarding the still unfolding Israel-Hamas conflict.

“Unfortunately, some misinformed commentators have mischaracterized our work to prevent the spread of hate speech and misinformation surrounding the crisis in Israel and Gaza, especially as it relates to antisemitism,” TokTok said.

In a blog titled ‘Ensuring a safe, authentic space during times of conflict’ posted on the company's website Thursday, TikTok said it’s been ramping up efforts to protect the global community from misinformation.

“We take these issues seriously, and it's imperative we set the record straight with facts… Hateful ideologies, like antisemitism, are not and have never been allowed on our platform.” the Chinese-owned short-form social video app said.

On October 7th, Hamas gunmen murdered 1,400 people in Israel during a surprise nighttime attack, while Israel's ensuing retaliation in Gaza has reportedly killed more than 9,000 Palestinians as of November 1st.

"Over the last few days, there has been unsound analysis of TikTok hashtag data around the conflict, causing some commentators to falsely insinuate TikTok is pushing pro-Palestine content over pro-Israel content to US users," the company said.

Providing an example to refute claims the app has pushed content in support of Palestine, TikTok provided the total number of viewers for hashtags in support of both causes.

The Bytedance-owned company said it encouraged reporters and analysts to carefully examine the data before “leaping to faulty conclusions.”

The data in question shows that between October 7th and October 31st, the hashtag #standwithisrael had 46 million views among users in the US.

TikTok blog stand with israel and palestine hashtag
Image by TikTok

TkTok said that was compared to the 29 million views recorded during the sane time period among US users for the hashtag #standwithpalestine.

Offering more statistics, TikTok claims that while observing spikes in engagement directly after the attacks, nearly 1 million videos were removed from the app for violating policies,

“Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, we have removed more than 925,000 videos in the conflict region for violating our policies around violence, hate speech, misinformation, and terrorism, including content promoting Hamas,“ the post said.

TikTok blog misinformation Israel Hamas
Image by TikTok

Furthermore, TikTok said that globally, it has taken down 24 million fake accounts, including more than half a million bot comments on content under hashtags related to the conflict since the crisis began.

To help encourage misinformation awareness, TikTok said it has also rolled out reminders for users who search for certain keywords using either Hebrew, Arabic, or English.

TikTok said its CEO Shou Zi Chew will meet EU industry chief Thierry Breton, EU digital chief Vera Jourova and EU antitrust chief Didier Reynders in Brussels on Noveber 6th and 7th to discuss new EU online content rules known as the Digital Services Act.

Misinformation spreads like wildfire

Reports of false claims have also been spreading on other social platforms, including Elon Musk’s X and Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook.

After hundreds of reports of misinformation, propaganda, and graphic footage of the abductions on social media, the EU’s Industry commissioner gave TikTok 24 hours to detail measures it would take to counter the spread of disinformation.

Similar notices were send to Facebook and X (formally known as Twitter).

Since the directive and public outcry, X self-reported to have removed hundreds of Hamas-affiliated accounts, as well as either removed or labeled tens of thousands of pieces of inflammatory and violent content.

In the days right after the attacks, Israeli schools warned parents to remove social apps, specifically calling out TikTok and Instagram, from their children’s devices due to propaganda and brutally graphic videos circulating on the platforms.

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