Some of the largest and most influential social media giants in the world — TikTok, Instagram and Facebook — all feature more pro-Palestinian hashtags than pro-Israel hashtags, per a recent Washington Post article. But some experts are calling out TikTok specifically as doing the worst job at preventing hate speech on its platform.
According to The Post article, the “number of TikTok videos with the #freepalestine hashtag is dramatically higher than those with #standwithisrael.,” some Republicans in Congress have argued in the weeks since the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks by Hamas on Israeli, American and other citizens. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., said TikTok was “digital fentanyl” sponsored by China, also calling out antisemitic content and “hate” being reported against Jewish-Americans on the CCP-connected app.
But The Washington Post reported Monday that Facebook and Instagram “show a remarkably similar gap” between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel content on their platforms.
“On Facebook, the #freepalestine hashtag is found on more than 11 million posts — 39 times more than those with #standwithisrael,” according to The Post. “On Instagram, the pro-Palestinian hashtag is found on 6 million posts, 26 times more than the pro-Israel hashtag.”
The Post argued that the “consistency of pro-Palestinian content across social networks, whether Chinese- or American-owned, undercuts an argument that has become central to the latest wave of anti-TikTok rage in Washington: that the Chinese government is manipulating TikTok’s algorithm to play up pro-Palestinian viewpoints and that the app, which has 150 million users in the United States, should be banned nationwide.”
Hen Mazzig, senior fellow at the Tel Aviv Institute, told Fox News Digital in an interview that there was a clear “bent towards Palestinian voices.”
“I think that from my experience and experience of many young Jews that are using TikTok there’s a clear problem and a bent towards Palestinian voices,” Mazzig said. “Their hate trackers are not as efficient as the Meta ones, which, by the way, aren’t amazing either. But they’re trying their best to make sure that hate speech and antisemitism is being countered.”
He continued: “And it does beg the question why? Why is it only on TikTok? Who is behind TikTok that is promoting this unfair and biased view of this conflict?”
In a TikTok statement, the company wrote that it does not “promote” one side over the other. Data provided by TikTok and reported on by Forbes show that “[n]early 60% of 9,500 total content takedown requests from the prosecutor’s office to major social sites were to Facebook and Instagram’s parent company. That was compared to 26% to TikTok, according to data provided by the agency.”
When asked about the distinction between pro-Palestinian supporters and antisemitism, Mazzig said that both Palestine and Israel deserve to have a homeland. “I support Palestinian national rights and self-determination just as much as I support Jewish self-determination in our ancestral homeland,” he said.
“But I don’t think the people that are protesting in the streets really care” about Palestinian national rights,” Mazzig explained. “I don’t think they understand what they’re speaking about or what they are supporting, because if they did why are they coming out now? Why have they been protesting since Oct. 8? We’ve seen protests on Oct. 7, even.”
As to criticism against Meta, which owns both Instagram and Facebook, a Meta spokesperson told Fox News Digital that hashtags “do not really give an accurate picture” of what is happening on the platform. The company has also released a statement on its website revealing that it is working to control “content containing praise for Hamas, which is designated by Meta as a Dangerous Organization, or violent and graphic content” in the wake of the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released a study on Nov. 9 that indicated “[a]ntisemitic posts increased dramatically on X beginning October 7, while the frequency of antisemitism on Facebook remained relatively stable.”
TikTok has also responded directly to claims of antisemitism running rampant on the platform in a blog post Monday.
“It’s critical to understand that hashtags on the platform are created and added to videos by content creators, not TikTok,” statement reads. “Millions of people in regions such as the Middle East and South East Asia account for a significant proportion of views on hashtags. Therefore, there’s more content with #freepalestine and #standwithpalestine and more overall views. It is easy to cherry pick hashtags to support a false narrative about the platform.”
The company also claimed that the “difference in volume between content related to Palestine and content related to Israel is similar across platforms,” in a similar argument to the Washington Post article. “For instance, if you look at public data on other platforms, such as Instagram, you’ll find there are 5.7M total posts tagged #FreePalestine compared to 214K total posts tagged #standwithIsrael. Looking at public Facebook data, there are 11M total posts tagged #FreePalestine compared to 278K total posts tagged #standwithIsrael.”
Actor Timothée Chalamet was attacked by pro-Palestinian voices online after he starred in a skit that featured a Hamas joke on SNL.
In the skit, Martin, Ben and John, the three writers from the comedy group “Please Don’t Destroy,” try to talk a suicidal man portrayed by actor Timothée Chalamet out of jumping from a building window ledge because of his failing music career. At one point, he reveals his band is called “Hamas,” pronounced HAY-Mis.
The show’s Instagram comments on the skit were overwhelmed with negative comments that SNL was making light of “genocide.”
“Such a lowlife joke, shame on you SNL!” one user wrote. “This was disgusting. You had a whole vigil for Ukraine, but you have this for Palestine? May you all [meet] your god and explain,” wrote another.
“Since when is making fun of suicide and genocides cool?” another writes. Another said, “Not funny at all… We know the West is obsessed with centering Hamas because it gets to use terrorism to justify the murder and displacement of innocent Palestinians but this here is surprisingly low.”
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Fox News’ David Rutz and Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.