ISIS Reportedly Using TikTok To Spread Propaganda

Web Desk – October 23, 2019


Topline: TikTok—the biggest new social media craze in recent years, with an image so sunny that even high schools have embraced it—has removed two dozen accounts that were posting propaganda from the Islamic State in an effort to appeal to young people, the Wall Street Journal reportedMonday.

  • The accounts posted videos that showed corpses paraded through streets, Islamic State fighters with guns, and women who call themselves “jihadist and proud,” according to the WSJ.
  • The videos were edited to appeal to young people, using flower icons, hearts and catchy music.
  • Some accounts had more than 1,000 followers.
  • TikTok has rules against terrorist organizations using the app, but even its team of content moderators across the U.S. and China and advanced algorithms couldn’t detect the ISIS accounts until the WSJ flagged them.
  • Social media companies, such as Facebook and YouTube, have had to dedicate significant resources to content moderation, beef up their algorithms and create a shared database to stem the spread of extremism on their platforms. But still, enforcing those rules still presents a challenge.
  • In an email to Forbes, a TikTok spokesperson stated: “This is an industry-wide challenge complicated by bad actors who actively seek to circumvent protective measures, but we have a team dedicated to aggressively protecting against malicious behavior on TikTok.”

Key background: TikTok has surged in popularity this year as teens flock to the app to make light-hearted pranks, comedy sketches and lip-syncing videos. It’s the third most downloaded app in Apple’s App Store, but it has drawn some scrutiny for censoring content to appease the Chinese government because its owner, Bytedance, is a Chinese tech company.

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