Creating new perspectives since 2009

Israel is world leader in crackdown on TikTok videos

February 28, 2023 at 1:28 pm

In this photo illustration, a computer screen displays the logo of “TikTok” and a padlock is seen next to this logo [Mustafa Çiftçi – Anadolu Agency]

A glimpse into the scale of Israel’s crackdown on social media users was given today with the revelation that the occupation state is one of the world’s leading countries in demanding the removal of videos from the TikTok social media platform.

According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, TikTok received 2,713 requests from governments around the world to remove or limit content or accounts in the third quarter of 2022. The company removed 110,954,663 videos uploaded to the platform worldwide during this time, roughly one per cent of all the videos uploaded to TikTok.

Of the videos that were removed, 80.1 per cent were removed before even viewing the entire video, while 89.8 per cent were removed within 24 hours. Two per cent are said to have been removed worldwide due to hateful content.

READ: Time for social media companies to end their anti-Palestine bias

In the case of Israel, 252 official requests were submitted, making it one of the leading countries cracking down on TikTok videos. The figure represents 9.2 per cent of the total number of requests to TikTok worldwide. By way of comparison, the US had 13, Canada five, France 27, the UK 71 and Germany 167 applications which were submitted on behalf of their respective governments.

Pro-Israel Zionist groups have claimed that the number represents a worrying trend in the rise of anti-Semitism on social media. The Israeli Knesset’s Committee on Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora and the World Zionist Organisation met representatives from TikTok to deal with what was described as “anti-Semitic discourse in the digital space”.

READ: Israel arrested 410 Palestinians for social media activity in 2022, report says

Critics have argued that the high number of removals related to Israel is less to do with anti-Semitism and more to do with the silencing of criticism of the apartheid state. Israel has long campaigned for the adoption of a definition of anti-Semitism which conflates legitimate criticism of the occupation state with unacceptable anti-Jewish racism.

Social media giants have adopted the definition produced by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). Seven of the eleven examples cited in the controversial definition conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. The man who took the lead role in drafting the “working definition”, Kenneth Stern, has said that it has been “weaponised in an attempt to silence critics of Zionism.”