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July 12, 2021 11:25 am
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Antisemitism Up Over 900 Percent on Social Media Giant TikTok, Finds University of Haifa Study

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

TikTok logos are seen on smartphones in front of a displayed ByteDance logo in this illustration taken November 27, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Antisemitic activity on the hugely popular social media app TikTok has skyrocketed over the past year, a new study by the University of Haifa revealed.

TikTok has 1.2 billion users and is used predominantly by young people, with over 41% of users between the ages of 16 and 21. At the same time, the enormous number of users and minimal content moderation has helped lead to a proliferation antisemitic, racist, extremist, and neo-Nazi activity.

The Haifa study found that problem is getting steadily worse, with a shocking 912% increase in antisemitic content over the past year.

This included a 41% increase in antisemitic posts and a 1375% increase in usernames with antisemitic connotations — such as @holocaustwasgood or @eviljews.

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Antisemitic content found by the study included videos of users giving the Nazi salute; stereotypical images of Jews; Holocaust denial or minimization; and texts like “I have a solution, a final solution.”

Even when TikTok attempted to counter the trend, such as by posting an educational video on Holocaust Memorial Day, the content was immediately targeted by huge numbers of antisemitic comments.

The Haifa study called TikTok “an ideal virtual home for hate speech and extremist content” due to its professed desire to be “raw, real, and without boundaries.”

Dr. Gabriel Weimann, a professor of communications who led the study, said, “It may be easy to dismiss the platform as an innocuous forum for children who want to be creative; however, TikTok’s catering to young, impressionable and naïve audiences, combined with bad-faith actors who are posting hateful content online, is something that should be taken very seriously.”

“I am not sure they did enough in terms of monitoring and removing all hate speech,” he added. “They certainly should apply their own Terms of Use and they’re failing to do so properly. Moreover, their algorithm just promotes hate by sending such messages to those who expressed interest, sending a user down a rabbit hole of hatred.”

Lisa Silverman, CEO of the American Society of the University of Haifa, asserted, “The antisemitism elucidated by this important research must be stopped in its tracks. Social media sites such as TikTok have a responsibility not to enable this spewing of hatred.”

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