During a virtual discussion with TikTok executives, Jewish comedian Sacha Baron Cohen expressed strong criticism of the platform, accusing it of fostering “the biggest antisemitic movement since the Nazis.” Cohen, known for his role in “Borat,” was particularly disturbed by content on TikTok that praised Osama bin Laden and justified the 9/11 attacks.
Cohen was accompanied by celebrities Debra Messing and Amy Schumer and over a dozen Jewish content creators. They collectively addressed concerns about the presence and rise of antisemitic content on TikTok, including posts that glorify Hitler and denigrate Anne Frank.
TikTok Executives Respond to Concerns
Cohen suggested that TikTok executives could “flip a switch” to combat antisemitism on the platform. He referenced TikTok content that espoused hate speech against Jews. The TikTok executives at the meeting, both Jewish, acknowledged the issues raised but noted there was no easy solution to eradicate such content.
“Will and Grace” star Debra Messing, who has a significant following on TikTok, urged the platform to ban the phrase “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which is considered antisemitic by many, including the Anti-Defamation League. As explained by the executives, TikTok’s stance was that the phrase’s usage varied and could be acceptable in some contexts, though they were open to reevaluating this policy.
Participants in the discussion also raised concerns about the difficulty in reaching TikTok administrators when facing harassment on the app, citing delayed responses. The executives, Presser and Melnick, attributed this to staffing challenges but mentioned efforts to reorganize creator management teams for better support. The meeting, which lasted 90 minutes, was part of ongoing efforts to address the issue of hate speech and antisemitism on the platform, following an open letter sent to TikTok by many of the same group.