Oct 21, 2019 - Economy & Business

TikTok bans 2 dozen accounts for pushing ISIS propaganda

A picture of the TikTok app open on a phone screen.

Photo: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

The social media app TikTok has banned around two dozen accounts for pushing Islamic State, or ISIS, propaganda, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The big picture: The Chinese app, whose appeal has skyrocketed in popularity among young people, is populated largely by short dance videos, pranks, musical covers and other lighthearted content. Just as many companies have begun using the platform as a way to connect with younger consumers, ISIS has evidently seen an opportunity too.

  • ISIS has been known to use social media as a recruitment mechanism, setting itself apart from other extremist groups.
  • To maintain the app's cheery culture, TikTok has hired thousands of content moderators throughout China, the U.S. and elsewhere, in addition to adjusting its algorithm to flag harmful content.
  • TikTok rules specifically prohibit terrorist and criminal organizations from using the platform.

Details: The videos, first found by the social media intelligence company Storyful, featured scenes that included "corpses paraded through streets, Islamic State fighters with guns, and women who call themselves 'jihadist and proud,'" per the Journal.

  • Many of the videos were set to ISIS anthems and used available TikTok filters like on-screen hearts and flowers.

Between the lines: TikTok has already faced a censorship backlash for allegedly removing content in a way that caters to China.

  • The app has garnered some scrutiny in Congress, with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) calling for a review of a 2017 deal that allowed TikTok ownership to expand into the U.S. market.

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