Sada Social Center for Palestinian Digital Rights, a social media watch group, stated that TikTok, a short-form video hosting service, met with Israel and collaborated with a system under investigation by the International Court of Justice for committing genocide and war crimes.
The watch group said that South Africa relied on footage published by Israeli soldiers in Gaza through the TikTok platform in its pleadings before the International Court of Justice, accusing Israel of genocide.
The footage showed soldiers celebrating the bombing of homes and buildings, mocking and disrespecting Palestinians, and writing their wishes on bombs dropped by Israeli planes on Gaza, said Sada Social.
“Instead of taking this as an indicator to review TikTok's standards and take action against incitement content on its platform, and making the platform a safer space that does not incite violence and murder, and instead of allowing the dissemination of news content shared by Palestinians in Gaza documenting genocide crimes, TikTok met with Israel and collaborated with a system under investigation by the International Court of Justice for committing genocide and war crimes.
Today, officials from TikTok met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in the occupied territories, just kilometers away from the genocide in Gaza, in a dangerous signal read by Sada Social for further violations of Palestinian content from one side, and the targeting of activists from the other side, especially since it disclosed in its semi-annual report for 2023 that it complied with 98% of Israeli government requests to remove content.
During the Israeli aggression on Gaza, TikTok did not register positive data according to Sada Social monitoring allowing freedom of opinion and expression for Palestinians to narrate their suffering and massacre. Instead, it participated like other social media platforms in deleting videos with news values.
During the four months of the Israeli aggression, more than 35% of the violations against Palestinian content monitored by Sada Social on TikTok targeted activists, media institutions, and Palestine supporters worldwide.
In parallel with Palestinian attempts to block it, TikTok allowed a large flow of inciting Israeli videos, in which Israeli officials and settlers explicitly expressed their desire for killing, and the spread of videos mocking Palestinian victims, and the circulation of images of body parts with bloodthirsty expressions.
TikTok contributed to the spread of wide footage of Israeli soldiers carrying weapons and dancing in Gaza, with footage of them torturing Palestinians after stripping and handcuffing them, and footage sent by soldiers in Gaza before bombing Palestinian homes. Despite its standards prohibiting images of weapons, violence, killing, and blood, TikTok took no action to prevent their spread, prompting more soldiers to share more images.
Among the inciting content observed by Sada Social on social media platforms during the four months of the aggression, 55% of them were on TikTok. The platform also rejected a request we submitted to delete the inciting Hebrew song "Harbu darbu", despite the hateful language it carries, and many other contents broadcast by soldiers of a system accused of genocide, said Sada Social.
“As Sada Social, we express our great concern after the Israeli meeting with TikTok, concerned that the minimum we can do on social media platforms is at risk, as TikTok is considered an important source for hearing the stories of Palestinians and conveying their narratives.
“We consider this statement as an appeal and a warning against bias with the impact of Israeli pressures and influences, and we call on platforms to listen to the opposing viewpoint, hold similar meetings, and achieve more transparency regarding platform policies.”
The importance of having free and safe platforms is a necessary and fair demand, and these platforms are considered essential channels for individuals to share their stories and advocate for their rights, not to call for their killing, it said.
“Technological accountability bears an effective responsibility in supporting human rights and enabling individuals to express their opinions freely.”