The Guardian decided to delete a 21-year-old letter by Osama bin Laden from its website. This action came after the “Letter to America” letter gained unexpected virality on social media platforms like TikTok, X, and Instagram. Users visiting the page now encounter a message explaining the removal of the document, originally published on November 24, 2002.
The resurgence of bin Laden’s letter on social media, particularly TikTok, led to its widespread sharing, often without the full context. This prompted The Guardian to remove the transcript and direct readers to the original news article for context. The letter’s resurgence sparked discussions on TikTok, particularly bin Laden’s rationale for the September 11 attacks being America’s support of Israel.
TikTok’s Role and Controversy
The trend on TikTok began with a post by Lynnette Adkins, urging her followers to read the letter, leading to a surge in discussions and revelations among users. Some TikTokers expressed shock, claiming they had been misled about historical events.
In response to the trend, TikTok stated that promoting the letter violated their policies against supporting terrorism and took steps to remove such content. Despite the trend on TikTok, the platform clarified that the issue was not unique to them and had appeared across various media platforms. The resurfacing of bin Laden’s letter coincides with ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, including recent allegations against Israel and responses from global figures like Angelina Jolie.