TikTok ‘Hatescape’ Hype Ignores Important Details
“Extremist content is flourishing on TikTok,” read a Politico headline today. The USA Today headline was even more breathless, calling the popular video app a “‘hatescape’ for racism and white supremacy.” Both articles concerned a new report from researchers at the U.K.’s Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) think tank.
A bulleted list atop the USA Today piece trumpets a dramatic finding: “Of the 1,030 TikTok videos researchers analyzed, nearly a third amplified white supremacy.” These videos “included support for genocide conspiracy theories that claim white people’s existence is under threat and music from white power bands,” the article goes on to state. “Three of the 10 most popular videos, viewed a combined 3.5 million times, were clips originally produced by Paul Miller, an extremist known as ‘Gypsy Crusader’ who spreads racist and antisemitic rhetoric on social media.”
“White supremacist videos were by far the largest category of content the study uncovered,” USA Today adds.
All of this gives the impression that researchers simply opened TikTok and were bombarded with an overwhelming amount of white supremacist content. But click through to the ISD report and you’ll notice an important and overlooked fact: The researchers were only analyzing videos deemed to contain extremist
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