Spreading Hate on TikTok

In Hatescape: An In-Depth Analysis of Extremism and Hate Speech on TikTok, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) offers a comprehensive examination of how TikTok content creators exploit the platform’s unique features in order to spread messages of hate.

The report analyzed a sample of 1,030 TikTok videos identified as promoting hatred and glorifying extremism and terrorism on the platform. ‘ISD examined the profile of the TikTok account from which each video in our sample was posted and analysed the profile for the presence and nature of any references to hate or extremism in the username, nickname, image, biography or featured link.’

Key findings  include:

    • ISD identified 312 videos promoting white supremacy
    • 246 videos feature support for an extremist or terrorist individual or organization
    • Footage related to the 2019 Christchurch terrorist attack is easily discoverable
    • Content originally produced by ISIS is posted on TikTok
    • The most-viewed video in the sample had 2 million views; video featured anti-Asian hatred linked to COVID-19
    • Content creators promoting hate and extremism leverage the systemic functions of the platform to increase the visibility of their content, including efforts to use the algorithmic promotion of certain hashtags to achieve views and engagement
    • Hateful and extremist content is removed by TikTok, but inconsistently

The study concludes by offering policy recommendations on how TikTok and other social media platforms can improve online safety by enforcing stricter moderation policies, as well as work on increasing transparency regarding the platform’s algorithms.

More resources regarding TikTok and Online Hate Speech can be found at the Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL).

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