(July 12, 2021 / JNS) During a symposium about online anti-Semitism sponsored by the U.S. State Department last year, a representative from the social-media platform TikTok assured that his company was working to combat hate.
Speaking in October 2020, Jeff Collins said TikTok’s mission is “to inspire and bring joy. … There’s no place for hate on TikTok, and we are investing a lot in people and tech to really get this right.”
Yet despite these efforts, a study out of Israel found a staggering 912 percent increase in anti-Semitic comments and a nearly 1,400 percent rise of anti-Semitic user names on the social-media platform as compared to 2020—representing a rise in actual numbers from 41 to 415, and from four to 59, respectively, from 2020 to 2021.
The study was conducted jointly by Gabriel Weinmann, a professor at the University of Haifa, and Natalie Masri, a research assistant at IDC Herzliya’s Institute for Counter-Terrorism.
Weinmann and Masri examined online postings, comments and usernames in a four-month period in 2021, comparing them to 2020 data. What they discovered was significant Jew-hatred on the site, which is especially popular with younger people. More than 40 percent of the site’s 1.2 billion users are between the ages of 16 and 24.
“TikTok claims on its homepage that it is ‘raw, real and without boundaries,’ ” the study concluded. “But the lack of boundaries, combined with the growing success of this platform, makes it an ideal virtual home for hate speech and extremist content.”
It is the second recent report to examine Jew-hatred on TikTok.
The Anti-Defamation League posted its own observations last month, saying “a recent review of the platform found that anti-Semitism continues to percolate across the app, including content from known anti-Semitic figures, as well as posts perpetuating age-old anti-Semitic tropes and conspiracy theories.”
However, the ADL did state that its review of TikTok was “not intended to quantify the amount or prevalence of anti-Semitism on the platform, but rather to offer an impressionistic sense of the type of anti-Semitic content that can be found with only a few taps. It should be noted that when alerted to the content ADL COE [Center on Extremism] found, TikTok took down the specific content.”
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