A Knesset committee has said the Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok “refused to send a representative” to a meeting held this week to discuss efforts to combat online antisemitism.
A meeting hosted by the Knesset’s Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs took place on Monday with social media giants Google, Facebook and Twitter all represented.
Asked why they had not attended the meeting, a spokesperson for TikTok said the firm were “happy to meet with members of the Knesset to address their questions and look forward to engaging with them at the earliest opportunity.”
“Keeping our users safe is a top priority for TikTok, and our Community Guidelines make clear what is not acceptable on our platform,” the spokeswoman added.
On Tuesday the committee said the firm’s absence from Monday’s meeting left the impression it “shuns” attempts to tackle antisemitism on the platforms of all the social media giants.
A report published in the Studies in Conflict and Terrorism journal in June noted a “disturbing presence” of far-right extremism on TikTok, including antisemitic material.
The JC had highlighted a case in May in which an openly antisemitic video attempting to poke fun at the tattoos given to Jews and other prisoners inside the Nazi death camps had received over 600,000 views on the social media platform.
A spokesperson later said the video - which shows a man said to be Jewish rolling up his sleeve to display a number tattoo on his arm - was not found to be in violation of rules on unacceptable content for the company.
At Monday’s meeting, Knesset Member and Committee chair David Bitan said Israel must work to remove all antisemitic and anti-Israel online content and called on senior ministers to meet the heads of the social networks to push the cause.
Ministry of Strategic Affairs director-general Ronen Manelis called for companies to “set a clear policy for tracking and identifying antisemitic and delegitimising discourse, increase enforcement, and increase transparency in reporting”.
Owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, TikTok - which has two billion downloads worldwide and about 800 million active users – has also faced accusations it is collecting sensitive data from users that could be used by the Chinese government for spying.
The US government opened a national security review of the platform in late 2019 and the UK Information Commissioner's Office and Australian intelligence agencies are currently probing the app.