TikTok ‘aggressively’ removing content praising Osama bin Laden after letter goes viral

The social media platform TikTok said it is “aggressively” removing content that praises Osama bin Laden’s 2002 “Letter to America.”

The letter, published about a year after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, was bin Laden’s attempt to justify the targeting and killing of American civilians. It has been recirculating online recently.

Bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces in 2011.

Many videos supported bin Laden’s argument and urged others to read the letter in the wake of the United States’s support for Israel in its war against Hamas.

“Content promoting this letter clearly violates our rules on supporting any form of terrorism,” TikTok Policy posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “We are proactively and aggressively removing this content and investigating how it got onto our platform.”

TikTok said the number of videos supporting bin Laden’s message is small, although some videos have reportedly received hundreds of thousands of views and thousands of likes.

“This is not unique to TikTok and has appeared across multiple platforms and the media,” the post said.

In the post, “the media” references frustration from users aimed at The Guardian, which released a statement Wednesday that it removed a “previously displayed document” that contained the translated version of bin Laden’s letter.

The news organization said it published the letter the same day that bin Laden released it — Nov. 24, 2002 — and removed it Wednesday after the transcript had been “widely shared on social media without the full context.”

“Therefore we decided to take it down and direct readers instead to the news article that originally contextualized it,” The Guardian’s statement said.

The letter is a critique of American foreign policy and contains antisemitic and violent language. It criticizes American support for Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

TikTok is an app that is widely popular with young Americans, many of whom were born after the 9/11 attacks.

A nationwide poll released Thursday by Quinnipiac University, found that among voters aged 18-34, sympathy for Israelis sank from last month. About half — 52 percent — of young voters said their sympathies lie more with the Palestinians, a significant reversal from an October poll when more said they supported Israelis than Palestinians.

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