TikTok videos spread lies about Israel - here’s what you can do about it

"If they are exposed to the interpretation of the news through TikTok, that should make us worried.”

Police Officers clash with Palestians at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem on April 21, 2021. Clashes erupted after Israeli police put barriers that prevented people from sitting on the steps in the plaza outside the gate.  (photo credit: JAMAL AWAD/FLASH90)
Police Officers clash with Palestians at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem on April 21, 2021. Clashes erupted after Israeli police put barriers that prevented people from sitting on the steps in the plaza outside the gate.
(photo credit: JAMAL AWAD/FLASH90)
There are a worrying number of videos about the Israel-Palestinian conflict that have been published on TikTok in recent days, often garnering hundreds of thousands if not millions of views, over 100,000 likes and more than 10,000 shares.
According to University of Haifa Prof. Gabriel Weimann, there is an alarming amount of fake news, and anti-Israel and anti-Jewish messaging being shared in these short films.
“Since no one controls, regulates or checks these videos, you can post whatever you want,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “There are a lot of lies.”
One video, for example, shows the tree that burned on top of the Temple Mount earlier this week. But in the film, the TikToker accuses Israel of trying to burn down al-Aqsa Mosque. 
The videos can be broken down into three categories: news, propaganda and political declarations. 
Some of the clips simply show the situation in Gaza from the Palestinian point of view, such as buildings collapsing or the population panicking as Israel carries out airstrikes. 
“We don’t really see a lot of this on Israeli TV and Western channels,” Weimann said. “They get it out using TikTok and social media.”
Take a recent video by Shahed (@shahed.kudsi): “This world is sick,” she says. “May Allah protect them.”
Then, she shows scenes in east Jerusalem of the protests and riots on the Temple Mount. Over the pictures it says, “In occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli occupation forces attacked Palestinians who had gathered to break their fast, throwing a stun grenade into a crowd of men, women and children.”
@shahed.kudsi

Ya rab protect them❤️ keep them in your prayers everyone #freepalestine #palestine #arab

♬ another love - eh
 
The video got 147,000 likes.
Another short clip selects a narrow view of an Israeli soldier dragging a Palestinian on the ground during a recent confrontation. The use of compelling music sensationalizes the episode. The video got 158,000 likes and close to 13,000 shares.
@palestiniansisterrrr

This is near Shiekh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem capital of Palestine #palestine #palestinian #israel #israeli #عرب #عربي #فلسطيني

♬ another love - eh

The propaganda reels can be divided into two categories: those produced by Palestinians in Arabic and those produced in English by Arabs or Muslims living in the United States or other English-speaking countries.
“Some of them are songs for Palestine, Sheikh Jarrah or Gaza – made in the West and getting more than a million views,” Weimann noted.
He said that because the videos are “made in TikTok-style, they are very attractive.” 
In a video titled “What is currently going on in Palestine?” that had 51,500 shares, TikToker Solana (@solanathagreenfairy) explains: “One of the holiest sites in Islam, Al-Aqsa Mosque, is on fire. Israeli forces have shot Palestinians, thrown stun grenades all over the mosque and sprayed tear gas. There is a video currently circulating with hundreds of Israeli settlers singing and dancing and celebrating these horrendous attacks,” she says.
“In addition to this, since last October, Israeli settlers have been stealing and moving into Palestinians’ homes in Sheikh Jarrah,” Solana says. 
“And since early this month, the situation has severely escalated. Far right-wing Zionists were marching through the streets chanting death to Arabs. As well as the military assaulting women and children and forcibly raiding homes.”
She calls on the public to “share informative resources to spread awareness and donate and sign petitions when you can.”
@solanathagreenfairy

a brief explanation but please help in any way you can !!! #foryou #savesheikhjarrah #viral

♬ original sound - solana
 
TikToker Kamelia (@bnr.kamelia), who appears to be French, jigs to a popular song while she spits on the Israeli flag and says she prefers s**t over Israel. 
Her video got 313,000 likes.
The political declaration videos use TikTok to take viewers to other sites where they can learn more or take action. One of Kamelia’s videos, for example, informs watchers of how they can participate in local marches for Palestine. 
“These videos are not just videos,” Weimann said. “They have political messages in the videos; and in the comments, they link to other places to expand the exposure.”
TikTok has 1.2 billion active users. Half of them are in China, and half from around the world, – many of them young people, including under the age of 13, despite the community rules.
“Many young people get their information from social media,” Weimann warned. “If they are exposed to the interpretation of the news through TikTok, that should make us worried.”
TikTok is owned by a Chinese company and has proved insensitive to public pressure to regulate the site. Weimann said he found a 1,100% increase in antisemitic messaging on the platform between 2020 and 2021. 
“Either TikTok is not willing to regulate against antisemitism or it has not been able to,” he said.
What is Weimann’s best advice for countering fake videos?
“Launch a countercampaign with counter-narratives,” he said.