In a private video chat with TikTok executives and employees on Wednesday, a group of Jewish celebrities and TikTok producers condemned antisemitism on the video social media platform, reported The Times of Israel. According to a recording obtained by The New York Times, more than 30 people attended the 90-minute meeting. It comes amid a spike in antisemitism following the outbreak of Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza, which began on October 7 after Hamas killed 1,200 people in southern Israel, and as debate over the war on social media has grown heated, as per The Times of Israel.
Among the Jewish celebrities who came out about antisemitism were actors Sacha Baron Cohen, Debra Messing, and Amy Schumer, as well as TikTok developer Miriam Ezagui. TikTok’s chief of operations, Adam Presser, and Seth Melnick, its global head of user operations, both Jewish, were the app’s key spokespeople on the call. “What is happening at TikTok is that it is creating the biggest antisemitic movement since the Nazis,” said Cohen, who previously made headlines in a 2019 speech to the Anti-Defamation League in which he called Facebook and other social media platforms “the greatest propaganda machine in history,” and accused them of facilitating the spread of antisemitism, as per The Times of Israel.
Cohen does not appear to be an active TikTok user. He told Presser, “Shame on you,” and stated the app might “flip a switch” to counter antisemitism. People on the call commented “Hitler was right” or “I hope you end up like Anne Frank”, being left under videos posted by Jewish users, reported The Times of Israel.
Apart from him, Messing also took aim at the app and said, “I understand that you are in a very, very difficult and complicated place, but you also are the main platform for the dissemination of Jew hate, The Times of Israel reported citing the Times. The call was organised by TikTok management after Schumer, Messing, Ezagui, and other Jewish celebrities and influencers (but not Cohen) signed an open letter stating that TikTok “is not safe for Jewish users.”
“Simply put, TikTok lacks critical safety features to protect Jewish content creators and the broader Jewish TikTok community, leaving us in digital and physical danger,” the letter says. “This hate and vitriol is not rare, spontaneous or unexpected. Sadly, rampant antisemitism is a common problem that TikTok has failed to address for far too long,” reported The Times of Israel. The letter requested TikTok to improve its safety measures, censor content fairly, prioritise verified and impartial content in times of crisis, and respond to physical threats.
Presser and Melnick stated that they want to hear from TikTok creators in order to further improve the product. “Obviously a lot of what Sacha says, there’s truth to that,” Presser said, referring to Cohen’s plea for social media companies to address hate. But Presser later said there was no “magic button” to address all the concerns raised in the meeting, The Times of Israel reported citing the Times.
“We recognize this is an incredibly difficult and fearful time for millions of people around the world and in our TikTok community,” TikTok said in a statement. “Our leadership has been meeting with creators, civil society, human rights experts and stakeholders to listen to their experiences and feedback on how TikTok can remain a place for community, discovery and sharing authentically.” Criticism has flared up against the platform again as a stream of TikTok users this week posted videos recommending a letter written by Osama bin Laden that aims to justify the September 11 terror attacks and includes antisemitic statements. TikTok has banned videos promoting the letter, reported The Times of Israel. (ANI)
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)