The popular app TikTok has removed a feature used by researchers to study the Israel-Hamas war, according to an article published by the Washinton Post on Thursday.
The feature, which shows how many times specific hashtags have been viewed, was used by researchers to measure the difference in pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel social media engagement.
The change was reportedly first noted by the Center for Countering Digital Hate on Wednesday, which claimed the update was “a step back for transparency” that “makes it harder to understand the scale of potential harms.”
TikTok made no official announcement before deleting the feature, the Post claimed. The source added that this controversial decision is one in a sequence that suggests TikTok is boosting pro-Palestinian content.
TikTok spokesman Alex Haurek told the source that the social media site continually evolving the TikTok platform and displaying hashtag metrics by number of posts brings us in line with industry standards.”
Haurek also claimed that researchers have other ways to study TikTok content.
Anti-Israel TikTok controversy
Investors have started questioning their future with the popular app due to accusations and research pointing it to having a driving role in the increase of global antisemitism, according to an article published on February 2.
In January the social media giant also made headlines after a senior employee blew the whistle over some of the pro-Hamas, pro-terrorism habitual behaviors of moderators for the platform, the Jerusalem Post published at the time. It was claimed that TikTok has also refused to publish ads about the civilians, specifically the women and children, kidnapped by Hamas on October 7 because they are “too political.”
Jewish celebrities, such as Sacha Baron Cohen, Debra Messing, and Amy Schumer, have also spoken out against the app for its role in amplifying antisemitism.
“We recognize this is an incredibly difficult and fearful time for millions of people around the world and in our TikTok community,” TikTok said in a statement. “Our leadership has been meeting with creators, civil society, human rights experts, and stakeholders to listen to their experiences and feedback on how TikTok can remain a place for community, discovery, and sharing authentically.”