TikTok representative at the Knesset: "Antisemitism is an abomination; it has no place on our platform"

A representative of TikTok told the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs on Wednesday that the viral video-sharing social networking service will work to remove antisemitic content that is disseminated through it.

This was the fourth meeting the committee has held on this issue in the past three months. During the meeting, Committee Chairman MK David Bitan (Likud) said, "The phenomenon of antisemitism on social networks has significantly intensified since the outbreak of the corona crisis, and in past meetings it was revealed that government offices are working on monitoring the phenomenon, but they are not filing complaints and are only following antisemitic tweets. In the previous meeting it was decided to set up an inter-ministerial taskforce that will determine, together with the social networks, how to fight the phenomenon and remove antisemitic content from the networks."

MK Bitan welcomed Facebook's announcement on Monday that it would remove any and all content that includes the denial of the Holocaust. "This is an important step in the fight against antisemitism online. I expect and hope that additional companies in the field will join in and adopt this policy on the issue of antisemitism," he said, while calling to add representatives of the academia and the World Zionist Federation to the inter-ministerial taskforce.

נציגת טיקטוק בדיון בכנסת. צילום: דוברות הכנסת

MK Michal Wunsh (Blue and White) said, "After its noticeable absence in the past, TikTok has chosen to take responsibility for the venomous antisemitism that exists on its platform, by taking part in today's discussion. As I said during the previous meetings with representatives of Facebook, Google and Twitter, TikTok and the others must adopt and implement the IHRA's definition of antisemitism, which includes the use of comparisons and denial of the Holocaust, as well as delegitimization, demonization and a double standard towards Israel." The social networks, she said, must use this definition to flag antisemitic content online. MK Yosef Taieb (Shas) also praised Facebook's decision and called on other social networks to follow suit. 

Elizabeth Kanter, director of TikTok's government relations in Israel, said "Antisemitism is an abomination, and therefore antisemitic content that expresses hatred has no place on our platform. We have zero tolerance for organized hate groups and those associated with them. Our community guidelines reflect our values and when they are violated we take action, including removing content and closing accounts." 

Kanter suggested that the Tiktok applet be used to increase Holocaust remembrance and Holocaust studies. Kanter and her colleague, a policy director at Tiktok with expertise in hate content, were invited by the committee to review the social network's policies and actions to combat antisemitic content. Kanter said, "In a world that is becoming more polarized by the day, it is probably a very difficult challenge, but we will never stop working to make TikTok a safe platform for our community, so that they can feel free to express their creativity."

They stressed that TikTok's policy and community guidelines do not tolerate content that attacks or incites violence against an individual or group, and do not permit content that includes hate speech. "We enforce these guidelines with the use technologies and more than 10,000 content experts," Kanter said. 

"The technology tools proactively flag content or accounts that encourage hate or extreme content by identifying images, word filters, and machine-based automated tools. Audit teams consist of dedicated content managers whose job it is to review content, respond to reports on inappropriate content, and act when the content violates the community rules. They receive training on content and hate ideologies, and in Israel the team consists of Hebrew and Arabic speakers."

Kanter further told the committee that TikTok cooperates regularly with NGOs and leading bodies in Israel and the EU, including Yad Vashem, the World Jewish Congress and the Holocaust Educational Foundation to proactively promote educational content about the Holocaust and the dangers of antisemitism. 

She said that last year, Tiktok began publishing a transparency report and was the first platform in the world to announce the opening of a transparency center that invited policy makers, regulators and stakeholders to take a closer look at the online content control process.

The latest report, which covers January-July 2020, showed that 96% of videos that violated community rules were removed before a user reported them and 90% were removed before users watched them.

Dvir Kahana, Director General of the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, said there is a wide gap between the declarations and the official policy – and the actual implementation. "It is our duty to continue to make certain that this policy will be implemented," he said.

Yaakov Hagoel, Vice Chairman of the World Zionist Organization, who initiated the debate, said "A long journey also begins with a small step, but it is clear that the power of the social networks is greater than that of the news and television networks; - power that could be destructive. This power has a daily effect on antisemitic incidents on the streets." 

Jordana Cutler, head of policy at Facebook Israel, thanked Committee Chairman MK Bitan for advancing the issue and promised that Facebook's policy on the matter will also apply to Instagram. Strategic Affairs Ministry Director-General Ronen Manelis said that since the committee's previous meetings on the issue, TikTok's cooperation and willingness have been apparent, including the removal of content. "There is still content about which we are negotiating, to define it as antisemitic," he said, adding that TikTok still has to invest more in training content removers. 

Ronan Costello, senior public policy manager at Twitter, told of a series of meetings with government officials in Israel and with international organizations about monitoring antisemitism, as well as training volunteers in the matter, which will begin this coming December. 

Source: knesset