Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley claimed that TikTok is making young Americans more antisemitic, during the primary debate Wednesday night, but she got her one crucial stat so very wrong.
“For every thirty minutes that someone watches Tik Tok every day, they become 17 percent more antisemitic, more pro-Hamas, based on doing that,” Haley said, pulling those shocking numbers seemingly out of nowhere. The reason this statistic is so shocking is that it is false.
The study Haley is referencing was conducted by Generation Lab. That study claimed that research “suggests TikTok is a meaningful driver of the current surge in antisemitism.” The problem is that it conflated antisemitism and what it calls “anti-Israel” sentiment.
The Generation Lab survey asked 1,323 Americans under the age of 30 questions like “How true or false are the following statements: The Holocaust did not take place or the death toll of Jews is exaggerated,” alongside ones like “Please indicate your agreement or disagreement with the following statements: Israel has a right to exist as a homeland to the Jewish people.” The result is a study that is biased and that erases any and all distinctions between pro-Palestinian sentiment, concern about Israel’s ruthless bombing campaign of Gaza, and hateful antisemitism and bigotry.
TikTok has denied allegations that it is promoting pro-Palestine content, saying that young people just tend to be more pro-Palestine, a fact that has been borne out in a number of more rigorous studies.
Haley has previously called for the U.S. government to ban TikTok after a letter penned by Osama bin Laden circulated on the app in November. Haley has made talking about TikTok a central part of her campaign and promised that social media reforms would be some of her first major moves if she gets to White House.
One can only imagine how fearful a world would be where watching six and a half hours of hospital TV show edits and P.R. unboxing videos on TikTok would make a user’s antisemitism double. Thankfully, we don’t live in that world because it would be logically and mathematically impossible.