‘We must fight lies and hatred’: Israeli president discusses antisemitism with TikTok executives

February 7, 2024 by Pesach Benson
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Israeli President Isaac Herzog met with senior officials from TikTok’s global management on Tuesday amid a surge in antisemitism, fake news and hatred of Israel on the social media platform.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog meets with senior TikTok executives in Jerusalem to discuss antisemitic videos on the popular social media platform on Feb. 6, 2024. Photo courtesy the President’s Office

During the meeting, TikTok executives were presented with examples of conspiracies and false information that users have uploaded to the video platform since October 7. Examples included shocking and graphic content, distinctly antisemitic expressions and narratives, denial and disdain for the Holocaust, and more.

“We must fight lies and hatred in every arena and place, including on the streets and at the same time throughout social networks, in order to prevent manipulation and a negative impact on the public opinion of young people around the world,” Herzog said.

The Chinese-owned TikTok is one of the world’s most popular platforms for uploading and sharing short videos. It has more than 1.1 billion users and is available in 160 countries. A 2023 study by Common Sense Media found that teenagers spent an average of two hours a day on TikTok.

Herzog, who was joined by Tom Divon, a social media researcher from Hebrew University’s Department of Communication, noted that some of the videos shown to the executives had not been taken down by TikTok moderators, or had remained online for a long time before being removed.

The TikTok representatives told Herzog that the company has so far identified more than 160 million fictitious accounts posting antisemitic or anti-Israel videos.

The meeting also came shortly after Barak Herscowitz, TikTok’s top lobbyist in Israel, announced his resignation on January 29, accusing the social media giant of bias against Israel.

“I resigned from Tiktok,” Herscowitz wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “We live in a time when our very existence as Jews and Israelis is under attack and in danger. In such an unstable era, people’s priorities are sharpened.”

Herscowitz’s tweet ended with the words “Am Yisrael Chai,” a traditional Hebrew expression of solidarity that means “the nation of Israel lives.”

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