A pamphlet by the terrorist leader Osama that is characterized by anti-Semitism am Load is suddenly featured in videos on TikTok. The “Guardian” then removes a translation of the text, which is more than 20 years old, from its website.
The video platform TikTok has a problem: more than twelve years after the death of Osama bin Laden, videos about an infamous pamphlet by the terrorist leader are being shared and viewed millions of times. That’s why TikTok started making videos “proactive and aggressive” to be removed, as TikTok announced on Thursday. Shortly before, the British newspaper “Guardian” removed the translation of the text from their website. The reason given was that the text was often shared on social media without the original context.
The “Guardian” had written in Arabic in 2002 “Letter to the American People” of the former head of the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda and published it in its entirety in an English translation.
In it, Osama bin Laden explained his worldview
In the text, the planner of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 explained his worldview, which was characterized by Islamic fundamentalism and anti-Semitism, and threatened further acts of violence. Quotes from it and references to the text were used on TikTok “Guardian” spread with reference to the Gaza war.
TikTok also banned the hashtag “#lettertoamerica” in the search function of the platform. The distribution of the videos and the reports about them immediately sparked new criticism of the service, which is accused in the USA of being close to Chinese authorities – which TikTok rejects. Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley wrote on the online platform X (formerly Twitter) that this was an example of “how our foreign enemies poison social media”.
TikTok countered that it only had “a small number” of the videos – and they clearly violated the platform’s rules. According to an analysis, the videos published since the beginning of the week were initially viewed around two million times, which is not very much for a platform with around 150 million users in the USA alone. Then a compilation at X drew new attention to it. By Thursday afternoon, videos with the corresponding hashtag had been viewed more than 15 million times.
Expert criticized “Guardian” for deletion of the letter
Bin Laden was killed by US special forces in Pakistan in May 2011. An expert on propaganda and misinformation at Stanford University criticized the decision “Guardian” as a mistake. Renee DiResta argued on the online service that a terrorist’s long-known fantasies should not be made into forbidden knowledge just because some people spread it on TikTok “threads”. This could make it more exciting for some to rediscover them. Instead you should people “the murderer’s demands” let read and add more context.
“The transcript published on our website was widely shared on social media without the full context. That’s why we’ve decided to take it down and instead direct readers to the report that puts it in context”it said on the “Guardian”website on Wednesday.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.