The amount of TikTok content with the #FreePalestine hashtag is dramatically higher than that with #StandWithIsrael, a potential nod to user’s stand against the war.
As Israel continues its relentless bombardment of Gaza, there has been a visible divide over support on social media worldwide, especially on Chinese-owned TikTok where on-the-ground content from Gaza has flooded timelines.
On Facebook, the #FreePalestine hashtag was found on more than 11 million posts — 39 times more than those with #StandWithIsrael, according to the Washington Post, whereas on Instagram, the pro-Palestinian hashtag was found on six million posts, 26 times more than the pro-Israel hashtag.
However, there have been concerns over censorship and shadow banning pro-Palestine support on Instagram, as many users found delays in their posts, limited views on their stories and some posts being taken down.
In one instance, an account with more than six million followers, as well as its backup account, were both temporarily taken down. The account @eye.on.palestine is one of the leading accounts showcasing the daily devastation occurring in Gaza.
At the time Meta had said that the profiles were disabled “following indications of compromise.”
Company spokesperson Andy Stone said: “These accounts were initially locked for security reasons after signs of compromise, and we’re working to make contact with the account owners to ensure they have access. We did not disable these accounts because of any content they were sharing.”
But this is not the first time claims of censorship on Instagram have been voiced.
However, there has been a wave of pro-Palestine content dominating TikTok, with many using the app as one of their core sources for news and updates on what is happening in Gaza.
Some American politicians have accused TikTok of boosting Palestinian propaganda and “brainwashing viewers.”
TikTok has been at the centre of debate in the US since its development.
Owned by a Chinese parent company, ByteDance, there have been claims of surveillance and anti-American propaganda. And now political leaders are voicing their woes over bias in the coverage of the war on Gaza by the app.
Michael John Gallagher, a Republican politician serving as a US representative, has been a renowned advocate for banning TikTok, claiming it is “brainwashing our youth against the country and our allies” with “rampant pro-Hamas propaganda.”
Other Republican politicians, including former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who is running for US President, have also accused TikTok of brainwashing users during the Israeli war on Palestine.
Speaking at the Republican presidential primary debate, Christie said TikTok was “polluting the minds of American young people” with “antisemitic, horrible stuff that their algorithms were pushing out at a gargantuan rate.”
However, TikTok’s data centre reveals that Americans are not brainwashed to the war but are, in fact, supporters of the Palestinian cause much more than against it.
For posts in the US, #StandWithIsrael has more views within the United States than #StandWithPalestine since there are twice as many videos under the #StandWithPalestine hashtag (14,000) than the #StandWithIsrael hashtag (6,000) posted within the last month.
On a global scale, pro-Palestine content hogged the app, with #FreePalestine and #StandWithPalestine pulling in 11 billion and one billion views, respectively.
The short form app officially has denied accusations it has pushed content in support of Palestine, stating, “Over the last few days, there has been unsound analysis of TikTok hashtag data around the conflict, causing some commentators to falsely insinuate TikTok is pushing pro-Palestine content over pro-Israel content to US users.”
Despite the startling differences in views, all three platforms have banned content promoting Hamas. TikTok said it had removed more than 925,000 videos promoting Hamas as it violates the app’s policies around violence, hate speech, misinformation, and terrorism.