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EXCLUSIVE: Jewish employees at TikTok share details of hostile, antisemitic work environment

TikTok content moderators freely express support for Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre and allow fake news to be spread, according to Jews who work for the short video-sharing app.

EXCLUSIVE: JERUSALEM – Jewish and Israeli employees of the Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok are beginning to speak out about an increasingly hostile and insecure work environment, including harassment, personal attacks and even boycotts, since Hamas carried out its brutal massacre in Israel Oct. 7 and Israel’s subsequent war in Gaza. 

In interviews with Fox Business, Jewish employees said they have received little support from senior management since the day thousands of Hamas terrorists carried out their murderous rampage, killing more than 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping some 240 others, including women, children and the elderly. 

They also reported a sense the company has lost control over the short video-sharing app’s 40,000 moderators, who, they maintain, allow claims proven to be false and antisemitic and anti-Israel content to remain on the site based on their personal views with little fact-checking. 

Jewish employees told Fox Business antisemitic and anti-Israel sentiments are expressed freely by other employees on the company’s internal chat system, Lark, which includes a recently created support group dedicated to the Palestinians but no such option for Israelis because the company considered it too political.


The company told employees to utilize an existing Jewish support group, even though not all Israelis are Jews and Hamas targeted both Jews and non-Jews. 

A spokesperson for TikTok said the company disputed these claims and said they "do not reflect the experience of the majority of our employees." 

"TikTok has strong policies against discrimination and harassment in the workplace, and employees are encouraged to report their concerns – anonymously if they so choose," the spokesperson said. "Every incident is investigated by the appropriate internal team." 

"Our CEO sent a message to all employees denouncing the attacks of Oct. 7, and the company published a statement on our website as well," the spokesperson added. "TikTok has had an internal group called MazalTok, to provide resources and a community for our Jewish and Israeli employees that has doubled in size since the start of the war.

"Hateful ideologies, including antisemitism, are not and have never been allowed on our platform," the spokesperson continued. "From Oct. 7 to Nov. 17, we have removed more than 1.1 million videos in the conflict region for breaking our rules, including content promoting Hamas, hate speech, terrorism and misinformation. Community guidelines are applied equally to all content, and our recommendation algorithm does not ‘promote’ one side of an issue over another."

However, multiple screenshots from Lark reviewed by Fox Business show rising fear among Jewish employees, even after reporting threatening and abusive treatment to their managers, as well as a failure by the company’s security teams to address real physical threats in global offices spanning Europe, the U.K. and the U.S.

The screenshots also show the unabashed celebration by multiple TikTok employees, including those based in the U.S., of Hamas’ barbaric acts and support claims that those working as moderators for the short video-sharing app not only cheat the site’s algorithm to boost anti-Israel posts but also purposely turn a blind eye to obvious misinformation and disinformation. 

In addition, Fox Business saw how at least one content moderator based in Tennessee encouraged posts promoting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against certain products and companies connected to Israel despite local legislation in that state making such an act illegal. 

In the screenshots reviewed, the individual shared with colleagues in the Palestinian support group a chart created by the BDS movement detailing which companies it was legitimate to target for boycott and therefore approve related content. The list includes McDonald's, Burger King, Pizza Hut and Domino’s Pizza. 


One Jewish employee, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retribution from colleagues and the company, told Fox Business there was a feeling among many Jews who worked at TikTok that management "no longer has any control over the 40,000 moderators working to fact-check and remove content that is inflammatory, inciting, and simply incorrect." 

On Lark, some Jewish employees questioned who was moderating the moderators, discussing among themselves that it was unclear what the company views as "misinformation versus opinion versus fact" when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

"Content moderation is just one part of the problem," another employee, who also asked not to be named, told Fox Business. "Those setting the policy that directs those moderators often shy away from even branding violent Palestinian groups as such."

"The teams dealing with policy at TikTok have always been overwhelmingly staffed with individuals who are openly hostile to Israel and whose opinions often blur the lines on antisemitism," they claimed.

One of the starkest examples of this, said the employee, "is the permissible posting of anything violent or gory relating to issues sympathetic to Palestinians. But when videos depicting evidence of atrocities against Jews are removed before the world can see them, we then feel that the world's most popular media platform is working against us as a people." 

Additional screenshots shared with Fox Business show how some of those moderators clearly hold pro-Palestinian views and even celebrated Hamas’ horrific actions covertly by using the synonymous watermelon emoji as their profile photograph.

In one example, an employee shared a photograph of Palestinian female prisoners released last week by Israel as part of a cease-fire deal to free more than 100 Israeli civilians and foreign nationals brutally kidnapped by Hamas. 


"This particular pic has a special place in my heart, and I thought of sharing it here," the employee, a trust and safety officer at ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, wrote of the image. The subject of Palestinian prisoners, many of whom were convicted or charged with terrorism offenses, is a particularly sensitive and controversial subject for Israelis, who in the past have seen many released prisoners carry out additional terror attacks. 

"Going into the office these days is very stressful," one of the Israeli employees interviewed by Fox Business said. "If you go in then you don’t speak to anyone else about being from Israel or having any connection to Israel."

The employee, who is not based in the Israel office, said that an increasing number of Jews working across the company’s various departments, including for ByteDance, are close to breaking point and that once this "sensitive period ends" TikTok will "not likely retain many of its Jewish employees." 

The employee added that increasingly Jews are ashamed to say they work for TikTok. 

"Currently, the atmosphere for Jewish employees at TikTok is very difficult," a Jewish employee based in the U.S. told Fox Business. "We feel we were not provided with the relevant support that was afforded to our peers working in other tech companies at the outset of the conflict. We feel that we had to fight for recognition that something horrible had happened to us and fight for recognition of our very difficult feelings of insecurity."

The employee said Jews working for the company feel they "should keep his or her head down far more than any other minority in terms of expressing themselves culturally or politically." 

"Many of us who expressed this to our HR representatives were simply shrugged off," the employee said.


About a week after the Oct. 7 massacre and Israel’s military response in Gaza, TikTok released a statement condemning terrorism, although it failed to mention Hamas as the perpetrators of the attack. Company CEO Shou Chew also addressed the issue in a message seen by Fox Business to all employees on the company's internal network.

"TikTok stands against all forms of terrorism," he wrote on Lark. "We are shocked and appalled by the horrific acts of terror in Israel and the loss of innocent lives. As we watch events continue to unfold, including the escalating situation in Gaza, my heart is with our colleagues whose lives are being disrupted or destroyed and who are hurting deeply — those who have lost family and friends, those waiting for news of the missing, those living in fear for their own safety or the safety of loved ones and those who are now being called up for military service."

The company added that it had "mobilized significant resources and personnel to help maintain the safety of our community and the integrity of our platform" and said that it remained "committed to transparency as we work to provide a safe and secure space for our global community." 

However, TikTok reiterated that it remained "focused on supporting free expression, upholding our commitment to human rights and protecting our platform during the Israel-Hamas war."

In follow-up statements over the past two months, TikTok said it had removed more than 1 million videos that violated its content rules and an additional 1.6 million videos that included hate speech and hateful behavior, including antisemitism. 

Despite this, however, Jewish leaders and community representatives say TikTok is not doing enough at a particularly sensitive and inflammatory time, which has seen a sharp rise in antisemitic incidents worldwide. 

A survey carried out last month by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) into the types of hate and misinformation on social media relating to the conflict revealed that some 70% of Americans were exposed to at least one of several examples of misinformation or hate on various online platforms.

In another ADL report, researchers found that "bad actors appear to be sidestepping TikTok’s moderation policies to spread antisemitic content through slideshows (Photo Mode) and hashtags." The ADL added that the platform was "difficult to study due to the lack of data it shares with civil society organizations." 

"Since the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre, social media services, including TikTok, have contributed to the proliferation of antisemitism, anti-Zionism and anti-Israel misinformation in deeply concerning ways," ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt told Fox Business. 

"A recent review of TikTok found that antisemitism is thriving across the app, including in content from known antisemitic figures, as well as in posts perpetuating age-old disproven, anti-Jewish tropes and conspiracy theories," he said.

"TikTok claims they're doing all they can to prevent the spread of antisemitism on the platform, so that leaves me with one of two thoughts: One, it's definitely not working, as in their systems are failing, or two, their processes are being undermined internally," Greenblatt said, adding he has met several times with the company’s top leadership, including Chew, but now it is time for "TikTok to take greater action." 

"The stakes are too high," he said. "The public deserves to know how TikTok is protecting its Jewish users and how TikTok is supporting its Jewish employees." 


Greenblatt is not the only Jewish leader to express this. Just over a month ago, a group of influential leaders from the tech industry met with Chew and other top TikTok executives, including Adam Presser, head of operations, and Michael Beckerman, head of public policy, who are both Jewish. Bloomberg reported that the group questioned the app’s moderation policies and asked why videos with pro-Palestinian hashtags were gaining so much more attention than those favorable to Israel. 

TikTok played down their concerns, writing later in a statement that it was "critical to understand that hashtags on the platform are created and added to videos by content creators, not TikTok." 

"Millions of people in regions such as the Middle East and South East Asia account for a significant proportion of views on hashtags," the statement added. "Therefore, there’s more content with #freepalestine and #standwithpalestine and more overall views. It is easy to cherry-pick hashtags to support a false narrative about the platform."

Similar concerns were also raised by a group of more than 30 Jewish TikTok creators and celebrities, including actors Debra Messing, Amy Schumer and Sacha Baron Cohen, who called the platform "the biggest antisemitic movement since the Nazis," according to media reports. 

"We recognize this is an incredibly difficult and fearful time for millions of people around the world and in our TikTok community," was TikTok’s response in a follow-up statement. 

"There are Jews [working within TikTok and outside] who are trying to fight this antisemitism," one of the employees interviewed by Fox Business said. "But there are two problems. One is that people are afraid of losing jobs and are therefore not speaking out enough. The other problem is that those at the top do not really care about fighting this and are making no real effort to change it." 

With more than 1 billion users worldwide, TikTok has drawn criticism, particularly in the U.S., that it could give China access to the data of the more than 150 million Americans users and that it could also be used to spread misinformation and propaganda. 


The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which China has approached cautiously, could now become a test case. A recent Harvard/Harris poll reported that 51% of Americans aged 18–24, the most popular age group for TikTok users, now believe that Hamas’ brutal terrorist attack was justified. 

The ADL’s Greenblatt told Fox Business, "We have seen this happen before with other social media services — YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter/X — and now TikTok needs to step up and demonstrate through transparency and action that they’re committed to tackling this hurricane of hate on their platform." 

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