February 28, 2024


TikTok is facing backlash once again, now for removing a feature that displayed the view counts of hashtags on the social media platform. First reported by The Washington Post, it is believed the change was made after critics said the app was boosting pro-Palestinian content.

As the report states, academic researchers are shocked by the disabling of hashtag view counts, since they viewed it as an important tool in measuring viewership data for studying the spread of harmful content and trends. In regards to the Israel-Gaza war, the Post said that researchers used viewership counts to measure the huge difference between supporters of the two sides among TikTok users.

The change came with no announcement and, according to a TikTok spokesperson, was carried out last month. The spokesperson continued, saying that changing the hashtag display from view count to the number of posts was “in line with industry standards” and that there were “other ways to study TikTok content.”

This removal of transparency tools by TikTok is unsurprising as it follows broader trends within the social media space. As pointed out by the Post, X (formerly Twitter) and Meta have both restricted data access to journalists and researchers within the last couple of years citing “privacy concerns” and “misuse.” The same reasoning has been cited by TikTok after limiting the functions of its Creative Center stating that it was for advertisers and that researchers were drawing “inaccurate conclusions.”





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