The Other McCain

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Doom-Scrolling a New Holocaust: TikTok’s Pro-Hamas Propaganda

Posted on | October 29, 2023 | Comments Off on Doom-Scrolling a New Holocaust: TikTok’s Pro-Hamas Propaganda

Have you ever wondered why the Left hates LibsOfTikTok so much? Why did Taylor Lorenz think it was necessary to dox Chaya Raichik? All she does — the whole function of LibsOfTikTok — is reposting left-wing TikTok content to Twitter. How did that make Chaya Raichik a target of such vindictive wrath? Hold that thought for a minute, while I delve into something seemingly unrelated: Julia Steinberg’s recent column at Free Press, “Why My Generation Hates Jews.” Steinberg notes a recent poll in which 48% of 18-to-24-year-olds side with Hamas in the current Middle East conflict. Recounting various incidents on her college campus (she is a student intern at Free Press), Steinberg explains that, in her generation, “the vast majority of us were raised on Instagram and Twitter — our ideas are tweet-length and infographic-sized. And the oppressor/oppressed framework was made for us.” Then she tells us this:

After seeing a thread on X [Twitter] about how TikTok — the preferred search engine for just over half of Gen Z — is an echo chamber for virulently anti-Israel posts and how its algorithm promotes pro-Palestine content, I re-downloaded the app for the first time since Covid to see how bad it really was.
In my foray back into TikTok, I was reminded of how my friends and I would doomscroll on the app. By osmosis, we mindlessly bleated the same talking points served up to us in thirty-second videos. The same critical theory books we read championing “decolonization” and “resistance” had been distilled into the perfect format: the explainer video.
Dipping my toes back in was a wake-up call as to how sinister this information flow has become. (It’s worth noting that TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance.)
Within the first minute of scrolling under a search for “Zionism” on TikTok, I saw a “Zionism Explained” video with over 125,000 views. It said that Jews are forbidden by God to have their own state, completely ignoring the fact that the State of Israel is secular. “How did this start? Let’s go back to 1897,” the video instructs. But Jewish history in Israel started thousands of years ago, not in 1897.
When I searched “history” on TikTok, a woman with the “cute freckles and lashes” filter told me and over 80,000 viewers that, in “the biggest plot twist of the century,” Jews are using their ancestors’ “tragedy to justify and inflict another Holocaust.”

Got that? Jews are perpetrating “another Holocaust” — that’s what college kids believe, because TikTok told them so. Everybody knows that TikTok (like YouTube) operates on an algorithm that suggests content based on your previous viewing history. This is why YouTube keeps suggesting that I watch videos about police pursuits, the New England Patriots and classic rock (among my other favorite topics).

Unlike the average 18-to-24-year-old, however, I possess a body of knowledge acquired long before TikTok existed. From an early age, I was an avid reader. After my parents bought us The World Book Encyclopedia as a Christmas gift when I was 8, I read more or less the whole encyclopedia by the time I was 12. As for the history of Israel, I watched the Yom Kippur War as it happened on TV news and read about it in the newspaper when I was 14. So anybody trying to sell me on the idea that the Palestinians (so-called) are victims of “oppression” by Israel is wasting their time — I know better. And, in general, my predisposition toward the written word (as opposed to video content) makes it more difficult for anyone to propagandize me. My body of knowledge is quite broad. I’ve read more Marx than most Marxists have.

Knowledgeable adults use the Internet differently than do uninformed youth, and online content affects the young differently than it does older people. Here’s the Wikipedia definition of “doomscrolling”:

Doomscrolling . . . is the act of spending an excessive amount of time reading large quantities of negative news online. In 2019, a study by the National Academy of Sciences found that doomscrolling can be linked to a decline in mental and physical health. . . .
The term gained popularity in the early 2020s through events such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the George Floyd protests, the 2020 U.S. presidential election, the storming of the U.S. Capitol in 2021, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine since 2022, all of which have been noted to have exacerbated the practice of doomscrolling. Doomscrolling became widespread among Twitter users during the COVID-19 pandemic, and has also been discussed in relation to the climate crisis.

If you’re an adult, with a job and other grown-up responsibilities, your interaction with online media is unlikely to turn into “doomscrolling” for the simple reason that you don’t have time to wallow in depressing content. But many teenagers have nothing else to do with their time than to stare into the social-media abyss, and guess what? The abyss contains a lot of Jew-haters. Some are “right-wing” neo-Nazi types, but more common nowadays are “progressive” types who have imbibed the radical anti-Israeli worldview of Hamas (and Hezbollah, etc.) and therefore condemn Israel as an “apartheid regime” of “settler colonialism.”

Because of the way the TikTok algorithm works, if you watch one anti-Israel video, it’s going to show you more anti-Israel videos, and so it’s easy for a use to get locked into an online echo chamber, with the algorithm feeding them related content from the same point of view. How was it, after all, that so many teenage girls decided a few years ago that they were “non-binary,” a gender category that strikes most adults as a bad joke? If the “doomscrolling” habit can cause tens of thousands of teenagers to suddenly become transgender, it’s not difficult to figure out why so many college kids nowadays vehemently support the “Palestinian resistance” (i.e., beheading Israeli babies).

Now, think back to those questions I asked about the left wing’s rage against LibsOfTikTok. Why do they hate Chaya Raichik so much? Because she exposed to the larger (adult) world what is being fed into the minds of young TikTok users. Very few people over 40 use the TikTok app, and even if you did download the app, unless you’re in one of those left-wing echo chambers, you’re unlikely to encounter the kind of content featured on LibsOfTikTok. So when Chaya Raichik posts a TikTok video to Twitter showing a public school teacher ranting like a lunatic, this is content you’re not supposed to see. This propaganda isn’t intended for the eyes of parents and other responsible adults who might disagree with the left-wing lunatic’s worldview. The creators of such videos expect to be seen only by people who agree with them, and therefore are spewing out deranged nonsense in an unfiltered way, trying to attract support (and clicks) from like-minded TikTok users. Well, guess what these people are saying about Israel and the “Palestinian resistance”?

Do you think people like this arrived at their beliefs by doing research, reading books? Or are they actually a reflection of the way “doomscrolling” contributes to groupthink? People are literally being programmed — propagandized, indoctrinated, brainwashed — by the algorithm. And then, they regurgitate these beliefs back onto the platform by posting their own videos, so that there’s an endless cycle of consumption and production of this stuff. Before you know it, your kid’s cellphone is crammed full of Jew-hating Hamas propaganda.

People need to wake up and realize what’s happening.



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