Censorship: Tik Tok and the Bin Laden letter

J.D. Capelouto and Louise Matsakis

TikTok says it’s “aggressively removing” videos promoting Osama bin Laden’s 2002 “Letter to America,” which explained why he orchestrated the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The platform has also blocked the hashtag #LettertoAmerica, meaning users won’t be able to search for it, a TikTok spokesperson told Semafor.

Several videos from creators encouraging others to read the letter or sympathizing with bin Laden’s views on Israel and the U.S. racked up tens of thousands of views on TikTok and other platforms in recent days. Google Trends data indicates that searches for the document began spiking around a week ago.

Critics argued the videos showed that TikTok was spreading harmful information to young people, who make up a large bulk of its user base. But the platform said in a statement on X that the number of videos about the letter “is small and reports of it trending on our platform are inaccurate.” The statement added: “This is not unique to TikTok and has appeared across multiple platforms and the media.”

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