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‘Libs Of TikTok’ Used Twitter To Target Over 200 Teachers And Schools

The Twitter account “Libs of TikTok” has dictated right-wing media’s anti-LGBTQ talking points in recent months, especially on Fox News. The account run by Chaya Raichik frequently targets LGBTQ content creators by misgendering individuals and inciting harassment, both of which seemingly violate Twitter’s policies against hateful conduct and abusive behavior. Amid rising social media attacks and legislation against the LGBTQ community, Libs of TikTok has celebrated schools shutting down their Twitter accounts after repeated harassment and praised right-wing politicians for criticizing education around gender identity and sexuality.

A Media Matters review of Raichik’s Twitter account found that Libs of TikTok has tagged or named at least 222 schools, education organizations, or school system employees in 2022, often directing users to harass an individual school district or teacher. In the last week alone, the account has targeted a school district, a middle school, and four teachers for teaching students about identity, sexuality, or other so-called “propaganda.”

Texas’ Austin Independent School District has been targeted in at least 18 tweets by the Libs of TikTok account. The tweets questioned the district's Pride celebrations and tagged individual employees.

On March 22, Libs of TikTok shared a letter from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to the Austin district that claimed celebrating Pride events with students was a “week-long indoctrination” and against Texas state law. Raichik wrote, “Omg. I’ve been tweeting about this district for 2 days. This makes me so happy.”

Just this week, Libs of TikTok posted another attack against the district, sharing a fake Facebook post that falsely claimed the district was giving elementary students homework on furries. This misinformation resulted in the district's Twitter account receiving replies accusing the schools of “grooming” students and claiming parents were pulling their children out for “crossing the line.”

Raichik’s targeting of Salem Keizer Public Schools in Oregon is another case study in this smear feedback loop. The schools were tagged in at least 12 tweets from Libs of TikTok between February 28 and April 5. Raichik attacked the school district over teaching a book that mentions instances of racism in U.S. history, announcing new policies that support trans students using chosen pronouns and bathrooms, and issuing pronoun pins to students and faculty.

Libs of TikTok then claimed Salem Keizer Public Schools was in “disarray” from the social media attention following the tweets. An April 4 tweet from the Salem Keizer account, which typically receives just a handful of interactions on its tweets, received hundreds of replies — many filled with anti-LGBTQ attacks and smears. Raichik mockingly called on her followers to continue harassing the district’s Twitter account, writing, “It would be really bad if everyone kept tagging them.”

In another instance of Libs of TikTok using Twitter’s platform for targeted harassment, Raichik shared a video in a thread of tweets on April 10 from a trans teacher on Instagram explaining how he teaches his students about identity. Raichik tagged the teacher’s employer and included the teacher’s Instagram username in her tweets. Users replying to Libs of TikTok argued that the teacher should not be allowed to work with children and declared that he is “another groomer that needs to be arrested and jailed for abusing and trying to indoctrinate kids into the sickness.”

The school blocked Libs of TikTok, deleted related tweets, and made its Twitter account private, likely due to the harassment received from Libs of TikTok supporters. Raichik celebrated, tweeting on April 11, “They aren’t coping well with all the attention.” The teacher’s Instagram account was made private as well.

Raichik also targeted a Florida teacher who said she'd rather lose her job than out any of her LGBTQ students to their parents. Libs of TikTok shared the video on March 29, which was then amplified by the website of Sinclair Broadcast Group’s The National Desk on March 30. The National Desk named the teacher’s employer, which said it was investigating the video. An article from right-wing outlet TheBlaze claimed the teacher had made her TikTok account private, “but Libs of TikTok saved a copy and posted it to Twitter.” (The account is now active with the video in question removed.)

Raichik’s Libs of TikTok account, which now boasts over 1 million followers, has already been suspended from Twitter twice in recent weeks for violating the platform’s rules against hateful conduct — and she has told Fox News, “I'm never gonna stop.” With previously banned accounts celebrating their opportunity to possibly return to the platform following Elon Musk’s recently announced deal to take ownership, Twitter should act now to prevent Libs of TikTok from continuing to drive harassment against LGBTQ teachers, allies, and educational institutions.

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

Who Is Victimized By Anonymous ‘Libs Of TikTok’? Innocent Teachers and LGBT Folk

The Washington Post confirmed that Chaya Raichik is behind formerly anonymous ‘Libs of TikTok.’ The influential anti-LGBTQ account has has been trademarked as a “news reporter service” by a Republican operative, although the Washington Post notes that “Raichik has claimed to run the account alone.” The account regularly targets LGBTQ individuals and their allies for harassment from its more than 640,000 Twitter followers while serving as a veritable wire service for Fox News and the rest of the right-wing media to push anti-LGBTQ smears.

While the right has misleadingly decried the reporting on Raichik by Washington Post columnist Taylor Lorenz, who heavily cited Media Matters, as “doxxing” and harassment, her Libs of TikTok account has revealed the names and locations of teachers, LGBTQ people, and others on the left, and promoted a dangerous lie about “grooming” that has resulted in harassment, threats, and lost livelihoods for private individuals:

“Libs of TikTok is basically acting as a wire service for the broader right-wing media ecosystem,” said Ari Drennen, LGBTQ program director for Media Matters, the progressive media watchdog group. “It’s been shaping public policy in a real way, and affecting teachers’ ability to feel safe in their classrooms.”
The account has been promoted by podcast host Joe Rogan, it’s been featured in the New York Post, the Federalist, the Post Millennial and a slew of other right-wing news sites. Meghan McCain has retweeted it. The online influencer Glenn Greenwald has amplified it to his 1.8 million Twitter followers while calling himself the account’s “Godfather.” Last Thursday, the woman behind the account appeared anonymously on Tucker Carlson’s show to complain about being temporarily suspended for violating Twitter’s community guidelines. Fox News often creates news packages around the content that Libs of TikTok has surfaced.

Raichik is not alone in pushing this targeted smear campaign against teachers, LGBTQ people, and those who support them, including companies like Disney. These harmful narratives have been lifted up by others like Chris Rufo, the right-wing operative behind the notorious campaign against supposed“critical race theory” in public schools, Christina Pushaw, the press secretary to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis who repeatedly interacted with the account while pushing the “grooming” narrative to justify Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, and Fox News, which has used increasingly violent rhetoric to leverage parents’ fears for their children into a political strategy that puts LGBTQ people at risk.

Fox’s Tucker Carlson has twice called on viewers to beat up teachers for what he called “pushing sex values on your third grader” and committing “sexual abuse against my kindergartener.” The Daily Wire’s Candace Owens said that “pedophilia is around the corner” with the “intentional and overt confusion and sexualization of our children in the classroom.” Appearing on Infowars' The Alex Jones Show, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) suggested that vigilante violence was an appropriate response to the existence of trans camp counselors. All of this has created a dangerous national environment for LGBTQ people at the same time Raichik’s account has recklessly targeted individuals on social media.

“Libs of TikTok” has explicitly targeted teachers and LGBTQ people for harassment

Libs of TikTok regularly targets individual teachers and their workplaces – releasing their personal information that includes school and individual names as well as social media accounts, and leading its audience to harass the schools on social media.s.

On April 10, Raichik posted a Twitter thread that shared a trans TikTok creator’s video and tagged the school they work in. Libs of TikTok celebrated after that school was forced to block the account and some of its followers, restrict comments, and more, with Raichik writing, “They aren’t coping well with all the attention.”

On April 11, she praised an Oklahoma middle school for firing a teacher “after complaints of grooming and this tiktok + others containing questionable content were brought to the principal’s attention.” A follow-up post included the teacher’s name and post on a local Facebook group “supporting our LGBTQA+ kids.”

And on April 12, Raichik tagged another school district for featuring a “drag teacher” performance, calling it “sickening.” In a follow-up tweet, the account noted that the school had restricted comments after Libs of TikTok told its large following to “imagine if they focused on teaching math, science, and history instead of drag.”

An April 14 Media Matters review found that Libs of TikTok has misgendered at least 14 individuals in 15 of its tweets so far this year, receiving more than 113,000 total engagements for content in seeming violation of Twitter’s terms of service. Media Matters’ Sophie Lawton explained that the account has regularly targeted individuals:

The account also posts targeted attacks on transgender and gender-nonconforming social media users. This harassment includes claims that adults who teach children about LGBTQ identities are “abusive” and claims that being gender-nonconforming or an ally is a “mental illness,” at least one of which has been removed from Twitter for breaking terms of service. Libs of TikTok has also advocated for all openly LGBTQ teachers to be fired and called on its followers to contact schools that are allowing “boys in the girls bathrooms'' and “boys and girls sharing bedrooms on field trips” to express their hostility towards pro-LGBTQ rules.

Raichik’s account was also part of a broader right-wing harassment campaign last July against two trans parents of a newborn, instructing its followers to call child protective services on them and directing them to one parent’s Instagram page. The couple faced widespread harassment online, and one of the parents had to make their social media profile private due to threats of violence.

LGBTQ people and teachers now face vicious, targeted harassment as “groomer” slander takes off

The real-world consequences of the lie that LGBTQ people are “grooming” children for sexual activity – a dangerous slander that has been championed by Libs of TikTok and its right-wing media allies – have already been extraordinarily troubling.

On April 1, NBC News reported on LGBTQ teachers – frequent targets of Libs of TikTok – in Florida who have quit the profession due to harassment and larger fears around state-enforced censorship and erasure of LGBTQ identities in schools. It cited one teacher who was targeted by parents for simply acknowledging his marriage:

Last month, a group of parents in Orlando, Florida, demanded “consequences” against sixth grade science teacher Robert Thollander. His crime? Thollander acknowledged his marriage at school.
“He married a man. This alone is not an issue. Sharing the details … with all his 6th grade students is the issue,” the parents wrote in a letter sent to their children’s school board, which was shared with NBC News. “It was not appropriate. Many of these students felt very uncomfortable with the conversations and shared this with their families.

And on April 19, NBC News reported on a spike in online harassment against LGBTQ people, particularly pedophile and “grooming” accusations:

The most prominent slurs center on accusations that LGBTQ people and their allies are pedophiles, using the word “grooming,” which the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children defines as when “someone builds a relationship, trust, and emotional connection with a child or young person so they can manipulate, exploit and abuse them.”
The term has been weaponized online, and it now appears almost constantly on many social media platforms. Data from the social media platform Reddit analyzed by Jeremy Blackburn, an assistant professor of computer science at Binghamton University in New York who studies online extremism, found about a 100 percent increase since the beginning of the year in discussion of “grooming” in conjunction with various LGBTQ slurs starting in early March and accelerating in mid-to-late March.

Media Matters has reported a similar trend on Facebook, where hundreds of posts from right-leaning pages use “grooming”-related language:

On March 4, DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw described the new “Don’t Say Gay” legislation as “an Anti-Grooming Bill” — pushing an old but persistent myth that LGBTQ people put children in danger.
Right-leaning pages on Facebook, particularly those for right-wing media outlets and personalities, quickly took to Pushaw’s messaging. In fact, there are over 250 posts from right-leaning pages since March 1 that include “groomer” language or call the legislation the “Anti-Groomer Bill,” earning over 360,000 interactions.

This online campaign to smear LGBTQ people already appears to be inspiring harassment in the real world. On April 15, The Washington Post reported the viral story about how two dads, one of whom is “a substitute teacher for the Los Angeles Unified School District,” were harassed on an Amtrak train in California and called “pedophiles” as their children cried:

“All of a sudden, there was a man standing right next to me talking to my son,” [Robbie] Pierce said. “The very first thing he said is, ‘Marriage is between a man and a woman.’ ”
Pierce was stunned, he said, as the unidentified man proceeded to shout homophobic attacks, accusing the couple of stealing their children and calling them “pedophiles” and “rapists.” As his kids began to cry, Pierce said he grabbed them and moved them to another car while his husband, Neal Broverman, shouted the harasser away.

Trans people are at particularly high risk of harassment from these narratives. On April 11, NBC4 Washington reported on a trans woman who was harassed on the Metro in Washington, D.C., and accused of “grooming children for sexual abuse”:

Saoirse Gowan captured how a ride to meet friends turned into a nightmare in a video now seen more than a half-million times on Twitter. It has also made her a target of threats.
Gowan, who is transgender, said the man accused her of grooming children for sexual abuse in an obscenity-filled tirade, which he appeared to be livestreaming.
She noted that the same phrasing is currently used in bitter national debate over how U.S. public schools address gender identity.
“I couldn’t get off the train even though I felt terrified for my life because this guy was yelling at me that I’m a child groomer, that I’m only on the train dressed as who I am because I want to hurt children,” Gowan said.

In Minneapolis, The Independent recently reported that a trans woman was shoved into the road and called a “groomer”:

“I’ve been transitioning for about eight or nine years now, and I have been assaulted and harassed by people on the street before. I have never been accused of sexually predatory behaviour,” says Aurora, a 34-year-old transgender woman studying to be a nurse in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She asked for her surname not to be used because she fears for her safety.
“That’s pretty devastating, because you worry when that’s happening that strangers are going to join in,” she says. “It feels like I am put into a position where I need to defend myself from allegations of such grossness, such evil behaviour, while also trying to defend a part of my identity that is innate and unchangeable.”
Aurora is one of three LGBT+ people who told The Independent that they had been harassed or attacked in public over the past two weeks by strangers who accused them, with no provocation or evidence, of “grooming” children or being a “groomer.”

The right’s phony concern over harassment exposes their hypocrisy

Right-wing media’s faux outrage over Lorenz revealing the person behind Libs of TikTok has spread rapidly, with many conservative figures dubiously accusing her of harassment for reporting on Raichik’s influential anti-LGBTQ account. But these defenses ignore that the entire point of the Libs of TikTok account is to target individual people on social media, creating an environment of hatred against LGBTQ people that puts them in danger – of violence, harassment, job loss, and loss of safety at work – and demands that they hide who they are in society if they want to live in peace.

As one Twitter user noted, when Lorenz’s “critics make this conversation about doxxing, they’re failing to apply the same standard to Raichik” for “creating targets in a violent culture war against LGBTQ people.”

By the right’s expansive interpretation of “doxxing” being used to criticize Lorenz’s report about an influential social media account, Raichik herself has essentially doxxed numerous social media users, teachers, and school, leading to an avalanche of harassment against them.

Oklahoma English teacher Tyler Wrynn told Lorenz that he saw himself “as the type of teacher to stand up for marginalized voices” when he posted a video telling LGBTQ youth rejected by their parents that he was “proud of them.” Last week, Libs of TikTok posted the video, where it was viewed hundreds of thousands of times. Facing a barrage of public hate that included a GOP Senate candidate calling him a predator, Wrynn was let go from his position – a development which Raichik publicly celebrated.

Published with permission of Media Matters for America.

Black 'American' Flags Hoisted By Far Right Signal ‘No Quarter’ For Liberals

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Far-right extremists over the years have adopted a number of flag designs as their representative banners. First it was the yellow "Don't Tread On Me" Gadsden flag flown by the Patriot movement and tea party. The alt-right came up with its Naziesque "Kekistan" banner. In the past few years, the prominent use of flags by belligerent far-right Trump fans, particularly those in "Trump Trains" or participating in right-wing invasions of urban liberal centers, has ranged from basic Trump or MAGA banners to "Blue Lives Matter" flags to their most recent "Fuck Biden" iterations.

Now, amid far-right protests against COVID-related vaccine and mask mandates, far-right extremists are unfurling their latest symbol: An all-black American flag, with stars and stripes mainly visible through variations in material and shading. "No quarter shall be given" is the black flag's traditional message—and in the context of the building drumbeat of right-wing "civil war" talk, a deeply ominous one. People flying them are essentially signaling that they're prepared to kill their liberal neighbors.


The black flags have been showing up at various right-wing protests, such as last weekend's "Health Freedom Rally" in Spokane, Washington—really a low-turnout affair mainly comprised of anti-vaccination protesters standing on a street corner, waving flags. One of these was a black American flag. Another one turned up when the protest moved to Riverfront Park.

The same flags have been showing up on people's home flag displays as well, as Michelle Davis of Living Blue Texas observed in a post headlined, "Are Your Republican Neighbors Planning On Killing You?" Primarily, videos of people erecting these flags on the fronts of their homes are being widely shared on social media, particularly TikTok and Facebook; Davis reported finding hundreds of them.

Black flags have a particular historical meaning for Americans: They first appeared on Civil War battlegrounds, carried by some Confederate Army units, and symbolizing the intent of the soldiers to neither seek any quarter nor give any—essentially, the opposite of the white flag of surrender, signifying that enemy combatants are to be killed rather than taken prisoner. It's a vow to massacre their enemies.

Its use in the Civil War primarily appears to have been featured in some of the heinous massacres of Black Union soldiers in the war, notably at the Battle of the Crater and at Fort Pillow. Both battles are considered Confederate atrocities.

The people posting the "black flag" videos on TikTok appear primarily to use two different pieces of music as accompaniment: The first, "Raise the Colors," is a gloomy sea shanty from Pirates of the Caribbean 2; the second, the song God We Need You Now by country rapper Struggle Jennings and cowriter Caitlynne Curtis, features QAnon-derived lyrics that threaten retribution for the people who "desecrate" the "values of our country and our God":

We've been dancing with the devil way too long
I know it's fun but get ready to pay your dues
Oh God, come back home
This crazy world is filled with liars and abusers
We need you now before we're too far gone
I hope one day they finally see the truth
God, we need you now

Davis noted that the same right-wing channels where the black flag-raisings are being posted are similarly rife with "patriots" advising their cohorts to prepare for a civil war. "Who are their enemies? Pretty much any non-Conservative. You know, Democrats, Liberals, LGBTQ, BIPOC, and the vaccinated," she notes. "So, we're the enemy, and they're openly professing to want to execute us."

Their primary grievance appears currently to revolve around COVID restrictions, with a number of military members talking about their imminent discharges for refusing to be vaccinated.

"The biggest message they have been sending out is, 'it's time' or 'the time is now'," Davis notes. "They primarily use Tik Tok as a recruiting tool and let others know their willingness to commit violence. Then they tell people to message them or where to find them on Telegram."

Some of the people posting videos of black flag hangings appear to be police officers, including one from Pea Ridge, Arkansas, who takes pains to carefully fold and unfold both his ordinary American flag and his all-black version. Several "black flag" groups have already formed on Facebook, and some Twitter accounts, such as the Michigan-based "Great Lakes Black Flag Coalition" ("Our mission is to unite Liberty minded organizations, communities and individuals for the purpose of promoting and restoring Freedom") specifically reference the symbol.

American far-right extremists have fantasized about embarking on a "second civil war" for several decades now, but the idea began building in intensity during the tea party years, when militia groups like the "Three Percenters"—whose name references its members' desire to embark on a "second American Revolution"—began attracting significant numbers of participants. It began gaining real traction during Donald Trump's tenure as president, mainly through the growth of such phenomena as the "Boogaloo" movement, which is specifically focused on preparing for a civil war.

Trump himself encouraged this narrative by threatening to unleash a civil war if Congress dared to impeach him, which sparked a wave of fevered preparations among his "patriot" fans in the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, Three Percenters and similar far-right groups. When it became apparent late in the 2020 campaign that he was likely headed for defeat at the polls, the civil-war discussions became intense, particularly among militia groups and white nationalists who were engaged in street-brawling protests, and "Boogaloo" activists tried leveraging street protests as opportunities for violence. Terrorism experts warned even then that fanatical Trump supporters were likely to engage in acts of mass violence.

This same, faux-patriotic worldview is what eventually inspired the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, which was the apotheosis of the GOP's two-decades-and-longer descent into right-wing authoritarianism, fueled by eliminationist hate talk, reality-bereft conspiracist sedition, anti-democratic rhetoric and politics, and the full-throated embrace under Trump of the politics of intimidation and thuggery. There was a reason the insurrectionists believed they were all partaking of a "1776 moment": they envisioned themselves as heroic patriots saving America from the commies.

If anyone believes the radicalized American right's drive to push the nation into bloody civil strife was somehow expiated or exhausted that day, they only need check the presence of black American flags the next time there is a right-wing protest in their town. Or maybe they can just check the front porches in their neighborhoods.

New Anti-Vax Disinformation Video Got 30 Million Views On Social Media

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

A viral video pushing misleading claims about coronavirus vaccines and masks has earned at least 30 million views from uploads directly on mainstream social media platforms. In addition to this extensive view count, the video has also seemingly received millions of Facebook engagements despite these platforms' rules against coronavirus misinformation.

Previously, Facebook claimed that it would remove content from its platform that pushes false claims about vaccines. YouTube has said it prohibits content "about COVID-19 that poses a serious risk of egregious harm" or "contradicts local health authorities' or the World Health Organization's (WHO) medical information about COVID-19." TikTok has said it prohibits "misinformation related to COVID-19, vaccines, and anti-vaccine disinformation," and Twitter has said it prohibits "false or misleading information about COVID-19 which may lead to harm."

Despite those rules, the new video promoting lies about the pandemic and vaccines has already spread extensively on these platforms in just a few days.

The viral video features a man named Dan Stock -- who has said he was at the United States Capitol building during the January 6 insurrection -- speaking in front of an Indiana city's school board, where he makes multiple false claims. Calling himself a "functional family medicine physician," Stock falsely suggested that coronavirus vaccines were not effective, saying, "Why is a vaccine that is supposedly so effective having a breakout in the middle of the summer when respiratory viral syndromes don't do that?" He also falsely claimed, "People who have recovered from COVID-19 infection actually get no benefit from vaccination at all," and inaccurately alleged that masks do not work, saying that "coronavirus and all other respiratory viruses ... are spread by aerosol particles, which are small enough to go through every mask." And rather than vaccines, Stock suggested people use the drug ivermectin to treat COVID-19 -- which the FDA has specifically advised against.

A review by Media Matters found that the video has earned tens of millions of views from direct uploads on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and TikTok combined.

On Instagram, uploads of the video have earned more than 4.6 million combined views. One upload, from right-wing host Sebastian Gorka, has received more than 3.5 million views alone. (In fact, Gorka's uploads of the clip on Instagram and Twitter appear to have contributed to nearly 30 percent of the known views of native uploads on mainstream social media platforms.) Another Instagram upload has nearly half a million views alone. And "Disinformation Dozen" member Sherri Tenpenny, who is ban evading on the platform, got thousands of views for her upload of the video.

Gorka Instagram Stock video

Uploads have also circulated on Facebook, with copies of the video earning at least 100,000 views. A page called Hancock County Indiana Patriots, which claims to have first uploaded the viral clip, got more than 90,000 views for its upload of the video which was then shared by John Jacob, a Republican member of the Indiana House of Representatives. (Jacob also earned thousands of views for his own upload of the video.)

John Jacob Hancock County Indiana Patriots Facebook Stock video

On YouTube, uploads of the video have earned at least 6.5 million views. One version earned well over 3.6 million views before it was taken down for violating YouTube's community guidelines. Multiple uploads of the video -- including the one with millions of views -- also carried ads, meaning YouTube had profited off of spreading these harmful COVID misinformation claims.

Dan Stock YouTube video ads1

On Twitter, uploads of the video have received more than 5.5 million views. Similar to Instagram shares, most of the Twitter views come from an upload by Gorka which was shared on the platform by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and The Daily Wire's Candace Owens, among others. Gorka's upload was ultimately blocked from being shared on Twitter, but only after days of remaining active.

Jordan Gorka Twitter Stock video

And on TikTok, one user's upload of the video (divided into two parts) earned roughly 14 million views alone. A member of the major TikTok conservative group Republican Hype House also uploaded the video, getting thousands of views.

TikTok Stock video

That a new coronavirus misinformation video was not just able to go viral but apparently surpass the wide spread of previous COVID conspiracy theory videos suggests that many social media platforms continue to struggle with enforcing their policies against misinformation about vaccines and COVID-19. Similarly, the video's ongoing reach shows that efforts by these platforms to label or take it down are not happening nearly fast enough to contain the spread of such harmful misinformation.

Research contributions from Olivia Little, Camden Carter, Spencer Silva, Nena Beecham, Jeremy Tuthill, Kayla Gogarty & Carly Evans.

TikTok Promoting Far-Right Conspiracy Theories To Unwitting Young Users

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

A number of seemingly harmless conspiracy theory TikTok accounts appear to be peddling dangerous misinformation to their unknowing audience. Even worse, TikTok's recommendation algorithm appears to encourage users to follow accounts that push similar extremist misinformation.

While these accounts may look benign or silly on the surface, a deeper dive reveals a darker truth: They're also disseminating far-right conspiracy theories.

Conspiracy TikTok, also known as "ConspiracyTok," is a community that regularly discusses conspiracy theories. Because of the massive size of the community and popularity of the content, discussion topics widely vary. Some accounts are dedicated to documenting alleged proof of extraterrestrial life; others solely post flat earth conspiracy theories.

Research published in 2014 by the University of Chicago found that about "half of the American public consistently endorses at least one conspiracy theory." Conspiracy theories have been (and most likely always will be) popular, but not every conspiracy theory is built the same -- and some have the potential to present material harm to their subscribers.

TikTok Encouraging Users Onto Far-Right Accounts

Beyond the innate popularity of conspiracy theories, TikTok's account recommendation algorithm (which is tailored to the "interests" or "connections" of an individual user) makes it easier for users to be pulled into a world of radical content. In one instance, when a user follows a seemingly harmless flat earth account, they get prompts to follow a slew of accounts pushing anti-vaxx misinformation, QAnon-related theories, COVID-19 denial, and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. This pattern repeats when further following TikTok's account recommendations.

The Camouflage

A user curious about conspiracy theories runs the risk of inadvertently getting sucked into a far more malicious rabbit hole, which is why seemingly harmless conspiracy theory accounts posting far-right conspiracy narratives is uniquely dangerous.

For example, "Conscious Content" is an account with over 11,300 followers and an innocuous bio that reads, "Learn and inspire!" Some of its first videos are about Atlantis, TV show predictions, and the "amazing intelligence of mushrooms." However, a closer examination of the profile reveals that the creator also reposts clips in support of far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and believes that Jeffrey Epstein was an Israeli spy.

This is not an isolated example, and in fact seems to be a pattern among other popular conspiracy theory accounts.

Another user, "jeff.speaks.facts" has over 157,500 followers and over 2.3 million likes. Their bio reads "Jesus is Lord and Savior" and the account appears to push conspiracy theories about celebrities. Yet again, a slightly closer look reveals that they have pushed the wildly anti-Semitic Rothschild conspiracy theory and received over 24,800 likes on that single video.

Similarly, "we.are.the.cure," an account with over 31,900 followers, frames itself as a spirituality account -- pushing conspiracy theories through a religious lense. However, mixed in is a video pushing the Rothschild conspiracy theory with a picture of what appears to be the devil above the name. The caption of the video encourages users to tag someone who "doesn't know this." The account also uploaded a 12-part video series about the Illuminati and its "secret plans for the world."

Some Dangerous Conspiracy Theories On ConspiracyTok

Some accounts that appear to focus on niche conspiracy theories or spiritual enlightenment are also posting dangerous COVID-19 misinformation and QAnon conspiracy theories, deceiving unsuspecting followers.

Misinformation about adrenochrome (a substance QAnon followers believe is harvested from the blood of children and then consumed by "global elites") appears to be a popular piece of misinformation circulating in conspiracy theory communities.

  • "ConspiracyRebels" has a profile picture of a triangle and eye, commonly associated with the Illuminati, and many of the account's latest posts are about ancient aliens. Yet, just days earlier the same account posted a videopurporting to show "Adrenochrome" with the caption, "They Are Lying To Us."
  • "Jabarr," another conspiracy theory account with over 17,200 followers and bio reading "Knowledge is Power. Knowledge is truth" also posts about adrenochrome.
  • "Deep Down The Rabbit Hole," an account that claims to focus on "health" and "spirituality" and has over 7,500 followers posted a video about adrenochrome. The account also uses the QAnon-affiliated hashtags "#thestormisuponus," "#deepstate," and "#cannibalism."
  • Infinite.energy, an account with over 127,500 followers and over 1.6 million likes, presents itself as a spirituality account, posting videos about "creating your own reality" and "how to manifest." A deeper dive shows that the account has promoted conspiracy theories about the New World Order and has used the hashtag "Q."

COVID-19 misinformation widely circulating on TikTok is a documented problem, and an issue that the platform has promised to aggressively combat. Yet, harmful anti-vaccination and COVID-19 misinformation routinely circulate in conspiracy theory spaces.

  • "This shot will rearrange your DNA. They've planned this for one hundred years, it is the mark of the beast," says ember_inside_me1, a conspiracy theory account with the Illuminati eye icon as their profile picture. The account has over 27,500 followers.
  • One account called "TruthSeeker1111" with the bio "Truths, yoga, self inquiry" seems to be a spirituality and enlightenment account. Yet, the account is also peppered with anti-vaccination and COVID-19 denial videos.
  • Another conspiracy theory account, "Opened Eyes," claims to "aid spiritual growth" in other users and has over 15,500 followers. Many of their posts preach enlightenment, but scattered in their feed is a variety of COVID-19 misinformation. "You probably won't be getting the vaccine…right? Educate people why…" reads overlaid text.

TikTok Is Failing Its Young Users

By not diligently moderating extremist content on its own platform, TikTok is allowing for the rapid spread of far-right misinformation to an audience of young users. All of the extremist content identified in this report is supposedly prohibited by TikTok, but remains widely circulated.

VIDEO: Trump’s Most Cringe-Worthy Moments Of 2020

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

This year, Donald Trump botched a federal response to a global pandemic, antagonized peaceful protesters of police brutality, rammed through a questionable Supreme Court pick, and attempted to steal an election.

But he's also fumbled his way through some unforgettable moments, making bizarre statements to the public that have left listeners scratching their heads.

Though it's far from the first year in office that Trump's verbal gaffes have made waves, it's certainly been among the most memorable.

Here are just a few of the more baffling statements the White House occupant made in 2020.

1. When he claimed Austrians live in forests

Discussing wildfires happening across California in early September, Trump told Fox News that Austrians were better equipped to handle such fires because they lived in forests.

"You have forests all over the world," he said. "You don't have fires like you do in California. You know, in Europe they have forest cities ... you look at countries, Austria, you look at so many countries, they live in the forest, they're considered forest cities."

Elisabeth Koestinger, Austria's agriculture secretary, felt the need to respond to Trump's bizarre remarks.

Specifically, she tried to debunk Trump's claims that "we live within 'forest cities' which never catch fire."

"...[T]he gravity of current events make Trump's words much more worrying — after all, right at this moment, thousands of people are fighting horrendous wildfires in life-or-death situations," Koestinger said. "In reality, Austria is a country situated in the heart of Europe, where people do not live in the forest, but rather with the forest and in a close, sustainable relationship with the natural environment."

2. When he wondered aloud about 'exploding' trees

Once again in September, while discussing the California wildfires, Trump wondered aloud to the press about the possibility of trees just "exploding."

"When trees fall down, after a short period of time, about 18 months, they become very dry, they become really like a matchstick and they get up — you know, there's no more water pouring through and they become very very — they just explode," he said.

Experts were quick to fact-check his claim.

Retired fire scientist Richard Rothermel noted that if Trump meant foliage could "suddenly burst into flames due to a massive amount of heat engulfing the tree," that was possible.

But, he added, "For the trunk to become super heated sufficiently to cause the moisture in the tree to suddenly become steam with resulting expansion which would shatter the tree ... In my years at the fire laboratory I never heard anyone report seeing this or finding evidence of it."

3. When he insisted he was just 'inspecting' his White House bunker

Following media reports in June that he'd hid in the underground White House bunker while police cracked down on anti-racism protesters nearby, Trump later claimed he had merely been "inspecting" it.

"They said it would be a good time to go down, take a look, because maybe sometime you're going to need it," he said at the time.

Complaining of "fake news," Trump added that he "looked" at the space for "a very, very short period of time."

"I can't tell you who went with me, but a whole group of people went with me, as an inspecting factor, I was back up, and ... it was during the day, it wasn't during the night," he said, slamming the media for reporting that the so-called "inspection" had happened at in the evening hours.

4. When he referred to Thailand as 'thigh-land'

Speaking at a Whirlpool factory in Ohio this past August, Trump mispronounced the name of Thailand as "thigh-land."

"Five years ago, this place was a disaster," he said in his remarks. "In 2017, Whirlpool won relief from the [U.S. International Trade Commission] once again, once more. Your foreign competitors moved their factories to prevent the level playing field and to avoid liability, shifting production to thigh-land and Vietnam," he said.

Trump quickly corrected himself, repeating "Thailand and Vietnam."

Those in Thailand, however, took the gaffe in stride, with English-language outlet the Thai Enquirer briefly changing its Twitter name to the "Thigh Enquirer".

5. When he suggested Americans inject bleach to cure coronavirus

In April, a White House official explained in a press conference that lights and certain disinfectants like bleach could potentially kill coronavirus living on surfaces.

Eager to put in his two cents, Trump suggested those treatments might be taken internally.

"So supposing we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it's ultraviolet or just very powerful light, and I think you said that hasn't been checked, but you're going to test it, and then I said supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do, either through the skin or in some other way, and I think you said you're going to test that, too," he said.

He added that injecting disinfectant might also be a good way to combat the virus.

"I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute, and is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?" Trump asked. "Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does at tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that. So that you're gonna have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me."

Medical experts were swift to condemn Trump's remarks as dangerous, and Lysol and another disinfectant company issued a joint statement warning that "under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body."

6. When he wished an accused sex trafficker well

In a cringeworthy statement heard round the world, Trump sent his best wishes to Jeffrey Epstein's longtime companion, accused sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell.

"I just wish her well, frankly," he told a reporter in July. "I've met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach and I guess they lived in Palm Beach, but I wish her well, whatever it is."

The FBI had recently arrested and charged Maxwell with sex trafficking of children, enticement of minors, and perjury at that time.

7. When he wondered why he couldn't force TikTok to pay off the government

Trump seemed gobsmacked in a September press conference to discover he — or, rather, the U.S. government — couldn't collect a bounty from Microsoft's acquisition of Chinese-owned app TikTok.

Trump had previously stated that any sale of the app to a U.S. entity should require the company to give the Treasury a "very big" payment as part of the deal.

Under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, governments are legally barred from making such payments to other governments in the private marketplace.

Asked if TikTok would indeed make payments to the U.S. Treasury in September, Trump told reporters, "We're going to see about that."

"Amazingly, I find that you're not allowed to do that, you're not allowed to accept money, so what kind of a government, what kind of thing is this, if they're willing to make big payments to the government, they're not allowed, because there's no way of doing that, there's no legal path to doing that," Trump said.

He continued, "And I'm saying wait a minute, they're willing to make a big payment to the government and we're not allowed to take their money? When does this happen? How foolish can we be, so we're gonna, we're looking into that right now."

8. When he claimed (falsely) that the biggest election threat was 'ballots'

In a September press conference, Trump ignored the raging pandemic around him to claim that the biggest threat to the November election was "ballots" — specifically mail ballots intended to keep voters safe amid the pandemic.

"The biggest problem we have right now are the ballots," he said in a press conference that month. "Millions of ballots going out, that's the biggest problem."

"Our biggest threat to this election is governors from opposing parties controlling ballots, millions of ballots," he added. "To me that's a much bigger threat than foreign countries."

He then falsely claimed allegations of foreign interference in the 2016 election had been disproven, despite intelligence community consensus, and his own party's confirmation, that Russia did in fact meddle in and affect that election.

Trump's repeated claims of widespread ballot fraud have been thoroughly debunked, and even his own outgoing Attorney General William Barr has smacked down allegations that there was mass election fraud that somehow turned the tide for President-elect Joe Biden.

9. When he decided to spell out 'COVID'

In a public statement on April 2 announcing that he would be authorizing the domestic manufacture of more ventilators under the Defense Production Act, Trump bragged that COVID-19 had become a "very famous" term.

He decided to spelled it out, however, rather than calling it by its name. By that point, the media had been reporting on the outbreak, which had been declared a pandemic weeks earlier, for several months.

"C-O-V-I-D 19," Trump said, referring to the disease caused by the coronavirus. "You know what that is, it's become a very famous term. C-O-V-I-D. COVID."

By that time, there had already been 3,900 COVID-related deaths in the United States, according to CBS.

10. When he claimed he worked as hard as factory workers

Despite his legendary Twitter habit and Fox News addiction, Trump told factory workers responsible for manufacturing personal protective equipment during the pandemic that he worked as hard as they did.

"The workers at this facility have answered the call at America's hour of need," he told them in May. "Many of you are working long before dawn, get up and you go to work, and long after midnight. I know your hours, I was talking to your people and your representatives ... but I work those hours too, we're all working hard."

In May, the Washington Post estimated that Trump had spent anywhere between 9 and 63 full days on Twitter during his time in office, if all the hours were stacked together. In that time, he has also posted more than 22,000 false or misleading tweets, many of which are easily debunked.

11. When he pronounced 'Yosemite' as 'Yo Semite'

At an August event at the White House to sign a bipartisan conservation bill, Trump infamouslymispronounced the name of Yosemite National Park — twice.

"When young people experience the breathtaking beauty of the Grand Canyon, when their eyes widen in amazement as Old Faithful bursts into the sky, when they gaze upon 'Yo Semite'... Yoseminite's towering sequoias, their love of country grows stronger and they know that every American has truly a duty to preserve this wondrous inheritance," Trump said.

Twitter was quick to call him out on his error.

12. When he said he designed Navy ships to look like 'a yacht with missiles'

In June, Trump inexplicably claimed in a visit to a Wisconsin shipbuilding facility that he designed a new fleet of warships for the U.S. Navy.

"The ships that they were building, they look terrible. I changed designs, I looked at it, I said, 'That's a terrible looking ship, let's make it beautiful, it'll cost you the same and maybe less,'" Trump said. "You know, sometimes you can make it look great for less money. And I said, 'This is not a good looking ship, let's change the design of it.'"

He said that he called in a team who then changed the ship's design.

"They gave me a beautiful — it's like a yacht with missiles on it," Trump added.

13. Any time he tried to dance to 'YMCA' at a campaign rally

Trump seems to be a fan of the Village People hit "YMCA," one of the tunes often played at his 2020 campaign rallies, as evidenced by his now-famous dance moves, which went viral this year.

Those moves even sparked a popular TikTok challenge, with users uploading side-by-side videos of themselves attempting to learn or imitate Trump's dance, which "starts with the arms, clenched fists pumping back and forth — sometimes to the beat — as though he's on an elliptical trainer," as the Associated Press described it.

"The hardest dance to learn," one user joked.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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