The Chinese video-sharing app reportedly removed at least 20 accounts associated with the terror group, but it is unknown how many more still lurk on the entertainment platform.
According to the report, the terror group posted anthems by the so-called Islamic State, as well as footage of corpses and its fighters, to a platform best known for light-hearted dancing videos, harmless pranks and occasional memes.
According to the WSJ report the social media monitoring agency Storyful identified around 20 Daesh-related accounts. All have reportedly been taken down.
The report says one Daesh-related account had around 1,000 followers, adding that one terror video had 68 likes, but does not elaborate whether these figures are representative of all Daesh-related material on TikTok.
The Journal suggests the videos were designed specifically to target a young audience.
“The rhyme, beat, evocative lyrics and punchy delivery are especially appealing to youth,” said Elisabeth Kendall, an Oxford University extremism expert. “This catchy sing-along method for propagating [Daesh] ideology means it spreads quickly and sticks in the collective memory. It tends to be far more effective than sermons or theological debate and treatises.”
It is unknown how big a presence Daesh still has on TikTok, according to The Verge. According to The Verge, US social media shared a media database of known terrorist imagery which allows it to be taken down immediately after it is uploaded. However, TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, does not disclose how much terror-related content it takes down, the report says.
The Verge report says Daesh content spreads mainly thanks to TikTok’s recommendations algorithm, adding that it is unclear if the algorithm promotes the material or simply recommends it randomly.
When the terror group controlled significant parts of Syrian and Iraqi territory, it made headlines with professionally-made videos and its heavy use of social media to spread propaganda, which many believe contributed to an influx of foreign recruits, including teenagers.