A wave of videos praising slain al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden’s ‘letter to Americans’ flooded social media platforms. TikTok responded by removing the videos and disabling the hashtag ‘lettertoamerica’ from its search.
The Chinese video-sharing platform faced massive backlash and calls for it to be banned in the United States after the videos went viral.
Nikki Haley, former UN ambassador and South Carolina Governor, sought a ban on TikTok, saying, “Stop giving the Chinese Communist Party the ability to influence Americans.
Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn too sought a ban on the Chinese video-sharing app.
“America’s youth are being indoctrinated with anti-American and anti-Israel propaganda by their university professors and Chinese-owned TikTok every single day. Ban TikTok,” Blackburn posted on Twitter.
The hashtag #BanTikTok started trending, with one user calling it a Chinese psychological weapon.
TikTok said in a statement that it was “proactively and aggressively removing” videos promoting the bin Laden letter, which it said violated its rules on supporting terrorism.
The company also said that the number of videos on TikTok was “small” and that reports of it trending on the platform were “inaccurate.”
TikTok has been under scrutiny in the United States for its data collection practices. The app has been banned in India and several other countries over concerns that it could be used by the Chinese government to spy on its users.
The company has denied these allegations, but they have added to the debate over whether TikTok should be banned in the United States.
The bin Laden letter videos have reignited this debate, and it is likely that TikTok will face continued pressure from lawmakers and the public to address concerns about its data collection practices.
The letter by the al-Qaida chief, Osama bin Laden, was written after the 2001 attacks, the worst terror attack on US soil. It tries to justify the monsterous 9/11 attacks and links them, among other things, to “…support to the oppressive Israelis in their occupation of our Palestine”.
That seems to be the reason why Osama’s letter resurfaced and became viral.
Israel is at war with Hamas after its terrorists on October 7 butchered 1,400 Israeli citizens and kidnapped over 200 to Gaza.
In another reference to statehood for Palestine, Osama says in the letter: “Palestine has been under occupation for decades, and none of your presidents talked about it until after September 11…”Osama concludes his ‘letter to the American people’, saying “Palestine shall not be seen captive for we will try to break its shackles” and warns that the United States would “pay for its arrogance with the blood of Christians”.
Laden letter and The Guardian controversy
The Guardian newspaper had the Osama bin Laden letter on its website since 2002 but pulled it down after the videos went viral.That ended up being counter-productive. The Guardian’s pulling down the letter from its website was said to have fuelled more interest in Osama’s letter and the videos.
The Guardian said that the document, which was published on its website on the same day, was removed on 15 November 2023. It didn’t furnish any reason for the removal of the document.The Guardian’s move came right after the videos started going viral. And after The Guardian removed the document from its website, copies of the letter were being shared on social media platforms.”The Guardian had a copy of ‘Letter to America’ posted, but once these TikToks went viral, the Guardian took it down, which has only led to more interest in the letter and conspiracies from TikTokers who say this is part of the media and the powers that control it trying to silence the truth,” American journalist Yashar Ali posted on X.