Iran cleric blames social media for anti-regime protests

A hard-line Iranian cleric has called on Iran to create its own indigenous social media apps. (AFP)
Updated 05 January 2018

Iran cleric blames social media for anti-regime protests

DUBAI: A hard-line Iranian cleric has called on Iran to create its own indigenous social media apps, blaming them for the unrest that followed days of protest in the Islamic Republic over its economy.
Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami made the comments while leading Friday prayers in Tehran. He said that when the country blocked social media “the riots stopped.”
Khatami says that “the nation does not support a social network that its key is in the hand of the United States.” He also said he believed anyone who burned Iran’s flag should be sentenced to death.
Meanwhile, activists have posted new videos purporting to show protests challenging the Islamic Republic’s government.
Activists describe the protest videos, obtained by The Associated Press outside of Iran, as showing demonstrations in Tehran on Thursday night, including chants against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
In Tehran on Friday morning, streets appeared calm ahead of noon prayers.
An emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, called for by the United States, is to discuss the ongoing unrest later Friday.
At least 21 people have been killed in the unrest surrounding the protests, which began last week over rising food prices and Iran’s flagging economy before spreading to cities across nearly all of Iran’s provinces. Authorities have said the protests are waning.


Social media app TikTok removes Daesh propaganda videos

Updated 22 October 2019

Social media app TikTok removes Daesh propaganda videos

  • An employee at TikTok told AFP that about 10 accounts were removed for posting the videos
  • The videos featured corpses being paraded through streets and Daesh fighters with guns
BEIJING: Social media app TikTok has taken down accounts that were posting propaganda videos for the Daesh group, a company employee said Tuesday, in the latest scandal to hit the popular platform.

TikTok, which is owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, claimed some 500 million users globally last year, making it one of the most popular social apps.

An employee at TikTok told AFP that about 10 accounts were removed for posting the videos.

“Only one of those videos even had views that reached into double digits before being taken down,” said the staffer, who declined to be named.

The videos featured corpses being paraded through streets and Daesh fighters with guns, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the story on Monday.

The Journal said the posts were from about two dozen accounts, which were identified by social media intelligence company Storyful.

“Content promoting terrorist organizations have absolutely no place on TikTok,” the company said in a statement emailed to AFP.

“We permanently ban any such accounts and associated devices as soon as identified, and we continuously develop ever-stronger controls to proactively detect suspicious activity,” it said.

Daesh's self-declared “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria fell in March, but the group remains active in several countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, as well as still inspiring jihadists through an online presence.

The TikTok platform, which allows users to create and share videos of 15 seconds, is particularly popular with teenagers.

“Unlike other platforms, which are centered around users’ friends or communities, TikTok is based on engaging with a never-ending stream of new content,” said Darren Davidson, the editor-in-chief of Storyful.

“The Daesh postings violate TikTok’s policies, but the sheer volume of content makes it difficult for TikTok to police their platform and root out these videos,” he said.

The app has been marred by controversy in recent months. In April, TikTok was briefly banned by an Indian court over claims it was promoting pornography among children.

The app is banned in neighboring Bangladesh and was hit with an enormous fine in the United States for illegally collecting information from children.

The company has refuted the allegations, saying they abide by local privacy laws.

ByteDance has a version of TikTok in China called Douyin.