salarko/ShutterStock (Licensed)

Speed of House TikTok efforts leads to spike in antisemitic conspiracies about ban

Old tropes are being revived online.


Tricia Crimmins


Posted on Mar 14, 2024   Updated on Mar 14, 2024, 2:16 pm CDT

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill yesterday that would prevent apps owned by ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, from being available on app stores and hosted by U.S. web services.

Efforts to pass a TikTok ban have languished in Congress in past years. But a new bill charged through the House with stunning speed, leading observers to wonder what changed.

And a number of people online are pointing to the Israel-Hamas war as why, pushing antisemitic claims that Israel is explicitly behind the effort.

Numerous pro-Israel groups back the ban as they say antisemitism proliferates on the app. And the bill’s co-sponsor is most infamous for claiming the app hooks teens on Hamas.

As such, the looming ban led to anti-Zionist and antisemitic rhetoric to explode online.

The House’s Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act overwhelmingly passed with a 352-65 vote. The vast majority of elected officials who are anti-TikTok have explicitly stated they view the app as a national security threat because it possibly works with the Chinese government.

But some online claim it is pro-Palestinian sentiment on TikTok that was the new catalyst for House lawmakers swiftly introducing and voting on the possible ban.

There undoubtedly has been a push against TikTok regarding Israel. Many pro-Israel actors blame growing pro-Palestinian beliefs among young people on TikTok, including the bill’s main sponsors, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wisc.).

Gallagher published an op-ed in the Free Press where he attributed pro-Palestinian views in America explicitly to TikTok. In response, the app clarified that it’s not pushing pro-Palestinian content on young people—just that more young people are just pro-Palestine.

As such, conspiracy theorists online are now claiming Jews pushed for the ban, reviving decade-old tropes that Jewish people control the mainstream media.

“The Jews of America are proudly bragging that they’re behind the TikTok ban,” @sapien29 tweeted alongside a screenshot of the Jewish Federations of North America’s support for a TikTok ban. “Because people are learning the TRUTH & Jewish Supremacist Death Cult is getting exposed.”

“Whatever Democrats and Republicans both agree on means that Jews really want it. All banning TikTok is about is Jews not controlling a prominent media outlet,” @templeofmarcion tweeted. “#jewishmoney is speaking and telling politicians to ban a non-Jewish media outlet.”

Groups such as the Jewish Federations of North America, the Republican Jewish Coalition, and the antsemitism monitor Cyberwell supported the bill, saying TikTok drives antisemitism.

Some tweets also include antisemitic memes, like the Happy Merchant caricature.

A clip of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) asking TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew about the “self-harm videos and anti-Israel propaganda” on the app is circulating as “proof” that the government wants to ban TikTok “because it offends the Jews.”


Others targeted their blame not at Jewish people generally but at Zionism specifically.

“Anyone telling you the TikTok ban is about China is either ignorant or lying. The truth is that Zionists & their BS hasbara are getting exposed by young people on TikTok to the tune of millions of views,” @realrobdurden tweeted. “It therefor must be censored. This Bill is being pushed to protect Zionism.”

Hasbara” is a Hebrew term that roughly translates to Israeli public diplomacy, or Israel explaining the steps it’s taken to ensure its existence and power in the Middle East.

“America doesn’t have a Tik-Tok problem, we have a Zionist problem,” @zzzelch84 tweeted. “One is about to be banned so the other can be protected.”

In reality, the desire by American officials to ban TikTok has long been prevalent. There’s no proof that a sudden fear of support for Palestine on the app is behind it.

The internet is chaotic—but we’ll break it down for you in one daily email. Sign up for the Daily Dot’s web_crawlr newsletter here to get the best (and worst) of the internet straight into your inbox.

Share this article
*First Published: Mar 14, 2024, 1:50 pm CDT