Neo-Nazis are using pop music on TikTok to secretly spread their propaganda: report
Neo-Nazis at Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville (Rodney Dunning/Flickr)

On Tuesday, Gizmodo Australia reported that neo-Nazi activists, banned from operating explicitly on nearly all significant social media platforms, have now turned to the video-sharing social network TikTok to spread their propaganda — and they are hiding their hate messages in pop music and duets.

"In a study by London's Institute of Strategic Dialogue, Ciaran O'Connor and his team of researchers examined 1,030 different videos on TikTok over the last three months. They found that almost half of these videos featured pro-Nazi language, with others re-enacting offensive stereotypes or misunderstandings about nearly every marginalised community," reported Julian Rizzo-Smith.

The videos, according to the report, featured everything from attacks on transgender people to Asians to re-enactments of the Christchurch shooting and a Blackface recreation of George Floyd's murder — and some 80 percent of them didn't get flagged by moderators.

"According to the study, they found a way to hide their content within TikTok's everyday features," said the report. "This includes dueting themselves with unrelated videos, using large-scale hashtags and misspelling keywords of offensive language, adding an extra number to their account name when banned, and, bizarrely, soundtracking their hate speech with pop songs available on the app. According to the study's author, Ciaran O'Connor, these groups namely used MGMT's 'Little Dark Age', Kate Bush's 'Running Up That Hill', and Gotye's 'Somebody That I Used To Know'."

Far-right extremists have increasingly been pushed underground by more aggressive content moderation, with many also going to the encrypted private messaging app Telegram. Even anti-vaxxers, who have been targeted in efforts to clean up COVID-19 disinformation, now sometimes organize on Facebook using code words.