TikTok pushed back on Thursday against growing claims in recent weeks that it had failed to protect Jewish users and had pushed pro-Palestinian content in the United States.
In a statement on its website the company said, “Hateful ideologies, like antisemitism, are not and have never been allowed on our platform.” The company said that since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, it had removed millions of TikTok videos related to hate speech, hateful behavior, harassment and bullying.
Many social networks have come under criticism for spreading misinformation and hate speech during the Israel-Hamas war. TikTok has the added scrutiny of being owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. While Beijing has pitched itself as a neutral broker in the dispute, a surge of antisemitism and anti-Israeli sentiment is proliferating across the Chinese internet and state media.
Last week, Jeff Morris Jr., a former vice president at the dating app Tinder, claimed that pro-Palestinian hashtags on TikTok garnered three billion views while pro-Israel hashtags gathered a couple hundred million views. His post, published on X, formerly known as Twitter, was part of a longer thread that was seen millions of times and argued that TikTok was the reason Israel was “losing the information war with high school & college students.”
Republican lawmakers like Senator Marco Rubio of Florida have jumped on such concerns. In a post on X on Wednesday, Mr. Rubio said, “TikTok is a tool China uses to spread propaganda to Americans, now it’s being used to downplay Hamas terrorism.”
But Mr. Morris’s post appeared to reference views from the hashtags over several years. The company seemed to refer to Mr. Morris’s posts on Thursday, criticizing an “unsound analysis of TikTok hashtag data around the conflict.” TikTok said the hashtag #standwithisrael had gained 46.3 million views since Oct. 7 in the United States compared with 29.4 million for #standwithpalestine. Mr. Morris didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
A group of Jewish TikTok creators and celebrities who post to the platform, including the comedian Amy Schumer and the actors Michael Rapaport and Debra Messing, wrote an open letter to TikTok on Wednesday, saying it was “falling woefully short by not protecting the safety of its Jewish creators and community and by not monitoring and guiding public discourse to ensure the platform doesn’t become a permanent cesspool of indiscriminate and aggressive antisemitism.”
The group said that it was difficult to filter antisemitic comments on TikTok as hostile users replaced letters like “S” with “$.” They added that upon reporting death threats, TikTok moderators said that the comment “I hope you die” was permissible. The letter also said that first-person accounts about atrocities experienced by Israeli civilians had been flagged, presumably by anti-Israeli users, and removed, and accused TikTok’s algorithm of directing attention away from Jewish creators’ posts about Israel.
TikTok said that it was investing in moderation, including trainings for teams to stay ahead of new forms of hate speech and behavior, and that it was consulting with groups like the Anti-Defamation League.
Yaël Eisenstat, a vice president at the Anti-Defamation League, said that her group has given training to TikTok on antisemitic content and that its website maintains a “glossary of extremism and hate” that it regularly updates.
Ms. Eisenstat said she appreciated TikTok’s outreach to her group but added “that does not abdicate them from the responsibility to actually provide more tools to civil society groups to study what’s actually happening.” She said the recent outcry over the posts on the site showed that TikTok should offer data on how it serves videos to civil liberty groups. The company said it started offering such data to academic researchers and will include other groups in the future.