By Pragyan Chakravarty

It was just another day on the 7th of October, 2024: The sun was out, the sky was blue and the sound of joyous music permeated the air right next door from Re’im Kibbutz near the border with Gaza. The loud music drowned out the sound of fear from around the corner as Hamas wreaked barbarity on a scale unlike ever before, killing anybody that moved and laying waste to towns on their march of death; the music festival didn’t take long to transform into a dance of sorrow and death. Very few were spared and those who did were taken to Gaza as hostages for leverage against the Israeli government to bring them to the negotiation table. I will not shed words to write about the brutal, inhuman situation that unfolded (and still is unfolding) in the Gaza Strip. The bombings, the hunger, the death, the plight of civilians are something we are all too familiar with even if we haven’t been in the loop everyday with the news. What I am going to touch on however is how it has become the latest episode of how Hate speech and Misinformation is mobilized by Platforms through algorithms in order to serve vested interests (especially in the context of the modern Culture War between the China-Russia-Iran axis and Western Democracies).

Pro Palestine Rally in Melbourne (Hrkac, 2023)
Pro Palestine Rally in Melbourne, Australia (Hrkac, 2023)


The situation in Gaza has begun an outbreak of another wave of popular polarization driven mainly by TikTok, X, and Meta, and how their algorithms have almost entirely promoted one side of the story all the while leaving no stone unturned to shrug the other side under the rug. TikTok has raised a lot of eyebrows in the US government with Congress passing a bill to ban it unless it sells itself to another company which isn’t the CCP affiliated ByteDance, It isn’t the first time TikTok has ruffled feathers in the West, with other countries; namely Ireland, bringing the hammer down on it with regard to its datafication. However, TikTok being banned in the High Noon of the Gaza situation in the USA has a lot to do with the way the algorithm of the platform (which allegedly stems from the CCP hand on ByteDance’s shoulder) promoted Pro-Palestinian content without trying to shrug it under the rug, which none of the other big tech platforms: Namely Instagram and Facebook did. The algorithm of the platform being constructed in a country that the USA is at odds with and away from the influence of Cis White Male perceptions which the boardrooms of Wall Street and Silicon Valley are filled with struck a raw nerve with the Establishment(Noble, 2018).

Even before the US house passed the bill to ban TikTok, it was under fire in many States.


However, let us not whitewash the fact that TikTok has played host to thousands of videos reaffirming dangerous Anti-Semitic stereotypes and giving a free hand to holocaust deniers and other creators directly promoting Anti-Semitism without a second thought. Weinmann(2021) shows in their research how TikTok is abound with conspiracies such as “Jewish Control of the World” and “Blood Libel” not to mention direct support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine and promotion of conspiracy theories against Ukraine and its people. Content promoting Russia and Putin is heavily censored on Instagram, X, and Reddit but TikTok seems to be letting it run wild without a leash, directly dealing a blow to Western and NATO’s interests in the war (Primig, 2023). Russian disinformation has flooded the site with TikTok not doing the least to keep it in check, rather sending it to everyone’s feed front and center. The CCP and Putin find common ground in more than issue, of which, poking holes in Western interests is one.

In the same vein, accounts affiliated with the Russian State and China have been influential with lighting the match that set TikTok ablaze with Pro-Palestinian content along with a lot of distasteful Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories with the platform taking no measure to put them to rest and giving the user no way of telling the lies from the truth(Alonso-Lopez, 2021 ; Pierri, 2022).

Consider how differently TikTok operates in China, where it operates as Douyin with largely different content propped up by the algorithm accentuated by the Chinese State’s penchant for suppressing information, where content from other nations is locked behind a firewall. This total lack of exposure to content from the other side has led to the growing apprehension that TikTok’s differential treatment for those in their country is actually part of a strategy orchestrated by the CCP to protect its own interests at the expense of the West (Kaye, 2020).

As a silver lining however, TikTok has helped in mitigating Anti-Asian racism (Zhao,2023) and was a rallying point online for activists of the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the killing of George Floyd (Jiang, 2022) which has ruffled the feathers of those in Conservative Western Circles. Conservatives take shots at the platform as “Woke” and a promoter of Communism. This has led to a counter attack on progressives on the platform by mainly American conservatives who are leaving no stone unturned to take over it and flood its algorithms (Weimann, 2020). This has led to the rise of Far-Right Anti-Semitic messaging on the platform with anger aimed at Jewish people along with their religion and claim to Israel (Weimann, 2021 ; Ozduzen, 2023), which has hit a boiling point with the situation in Gaza.

Image Credit: Guild

TikTok has done seemingly little to put a lid on the content, much to the undoing of the creators’ ‘patriotism’ as they unknowingly play into their adversary’s hands. The actions of such individuals are studied by the act of datafication and used by parties to create bot accounts impersonating their political views. These accounts then spread malice and hate on the internet in the guise of a regular person; and unless one looks deeply, they pass for the average Joe (see: Linvill , 2020 ; Stukal, 2019). Iran and Russia have created a huge network of such bots to combat dissenting views and drown out the protests of those who are against the State (Kermani, 2023). These bots, driven exclusively by algorithms are vicious in taking down any criticism against the Iranian or Russian Regime online and are notorious for fueling up Anti Semitism, Homophobia, Transphobia, and Misogyny alongside a vehement opposition to the State of Israel (Stukal, 2017).


Let us not let the time we spent putting TikTok under the microscope write off the ways in how Meta, X, and Reddit ride shotgun for Western Imperialism.  Both of them have their hands full with actions sustaining the economic and cultural hegemony of the West, most notably: the emotions and perceptions of Straight White Males (Holmes, 2015).  Instagram (owned by Meta) is a good place to start for its notoriety in suppressing Pro Palestinian voices, especially @eye.on.palestine, an account with 10 Million followers. The account was mysteriously locked off of everyone’s feeds in December and eventually restored after loud public outcry (Farah, 2023), however complaints remain that Instagram has shadow banned the account and does not allow it to show up on people’s suggested feeds unless they search for it(Farah, 2023 : published on The Guardian). X was no slouch either in this matter as they completely wiped the account off for no discernible reason (Navlakha, 2023). All this echoes the explicit direction of the American Government as it continuously funds the assault on Gaza and continuously vetoes any attempt at a ceasefire. The suppression of an important Palestinian voice and the subsequent shadow banning of the account passes off as algorithmic governance that serves the interests of the West.


Instagram rightfully makes it a point to openly and loudly show RT as Russian State Controlled Media.

RT being displayed as Russia state-controlled media.

It makes it a point to shrug Russian misinformation and hate speech under the rug. But what about misinformation that regularly flows from countries like India, especially one that is openly hateful and on board with Hindutva or Zionism? Why is that allowed to run wild on Social Media circles without any fact-checking efforts from Meta (Akbar, 2022)? Is it misinformation only when it comes from Russia, Iran, or China? Why does Meta and X capitulate to the BJP government of India, when According to the World Economic Forum’s global risk report for 2024, India is at the highest risk for misinformation and accounts for the greatest source of Islamophobic content (Werleman, 2022).

Riot Police keeps watch as Muslims protest the Hijab ban in Karnataka, 2022

The platforms of Meta and X do little to nothing to mitigate hateful, often genocidal rants against Muslims by Hindutva figures (Rajan, 2021 ; Bhatia, 2022), rather, the algorithms allow these posts to circulate, which range from equating all Muslims with Hamas (after the attack on Israel) to carriers of the COVID-19 in India during the pandemic (Ghasiya, 2022 ; Abraham, 2023 ; Al Hassan, 2019).  It really brings to question if these platforms care about authenticity or public interest and if the BJP wearing its alliance with Israel and strategic partnership with the USA on its sleeve all the while being a strong bulwark against China and her strategic interests has anything to do with it. Moreover, Meta enjoys unprecedented power in India, perhaps the strongest it does in any country due to the Indian government showing TikTok the door. According to the Wall Street Journal, the BJP is the most important Political Party in the world (Mead, 2023) which, if anything to go by, makes it no surprise that Silicon Valley corporations turn a blind eye to hate speech endorsed by the BJP.


Andrew Tate, is a name many are familiar with; his words make the stomachs of many a sensible individual curl but get a rise out of some, mainly disillusioned men, and allow them to be their worst self. Apart from being a peddler of violent and misogynistic rhetoric, he is also on trial for rape and human trafficking . Meta wiped his account off their platforms but Elon’s X had other plans, they let him back in despite the previous management giving him the boot.

He has amassed 9 million followers on X and built a strong platform for his misogyny and discredited conspiracy theories. Moreover, this has inspired many breeds of Neo-Nazis and Fringe extremists of all shapes and colours to set up their own shops on the platform. X barely moves a muscle as conspiracy theories and hate speech permeate the place; with many, if not all, individuals like Tate sucking up to Religious Extremists, and Vladimir Putin. Individuals like Jackson Hinkle use the libertarian algorithms of the platform to peddle their anti Semitism and misogyny, all the while discrediting the allegations towards the Iranian government over the death of Mahsa Amini.

Individuals like Jackson Hinkle have capitalized on X’s Libertarian policy to spread propaganda

The free-market Libertarian ethos of Elon Musk has done significant, if not total, damage to the culture of civilized discourse on Twitter/X. Moreover, Russian bot accounts enjoy free reign on the platform alongside comrades from Iran. Zionists enjoy a ground to justify and mobilize support for the ongoing genocide in Gaza. X has turned into a true cesspit of people who couldn’t care less for the other with zero regard for public interest. Elon lines his pockets while the common people lunge at each other’s throats. South Africa used the words of Israeli officials on Twitter to support their case against Israel in the International Court of Justice (Goldenberg, 2024). Meanwhile Islamists use the platform to call for the end of the Jewish people, most of them bots; many of them human.


In this great cavalcade of eye for an eye and life for a life, we often undermine how much the shadowy configurations of platforms determine what we see or hear, sometimes they are harmless little totems pulling the strings and showing you what you want to see and sometimes, they are sneaky little imps veiled as permutations and combinations that determine what the shadowy corridors of Presidential palaces and Corporate Headquarters want for you to see. The bottom line of it all is that Algorithms will forever remain a vessel of opaque polity conducted behind closed doors as long as individuals and groups do not have the right to challenge the parameters of Algorithms which shape their well being (Flew, 2021).

Collage of Big Tech companies that own the vast majority of the platforms we use.


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