While Kanye West has long had a tempestuous relationship with social media, recent days have seen him unleash a barrage of misleading and particularly offensive statements, some of them deleted by Twitter and Instagram. His most disturbing ideas, however, are finding an eager audience on TikTok.
At the root at the rapper’s latest controversy is his decision to ally with right-wing influencer Candace Owens in calling the Black Lives Matter movement a scam. The pair wore “White Lives Matter” shirts at Ye’s latest fashion show in Paris, provoking criticism from music mogul Diddy, among many others.
West then took to Instagram, where he posted a message that seemed to accuse Diddy of being controlled by Jewish people. After Instagram scrubbed it from the platform and locked his account, he returned to Twitter to attack Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg over the suspension. He then tweeted that he was “going death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE” and “actually can’t be Anti Semitic because black people are actually Jew also,” cryptically referring to a Jewish “agenda.” Twitter removed the post for violating its guidelines. Finally, West visited the Drink Champs podcast, where he doubled down on his anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and falsely claimed that George Floyd, murdered in 2020 by a Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on his neck, actually died from the drug fentanyl.
Drink Champs host and rapper N.O.R.E. has already apologized to Floyd’s family as they consider a lawsuit, and the episode may be pulled. But clips are already making the rounds on TikTok, and Ye’s insinuations that a Jewish cabal controls the entertainment industry and wider economy are racking up lots of views, along with approving comments.
TikTok’s community guidelines state: “We do not permit content that contains hate speech or involves hateful behavior, and we remove it from our platform.” They define hate speech and behavior as any content “that attacks, threatens, incites violence against, or otherwise dehumanizes an individual or a group” on the basis of attributes including race, religion and national origin.
Reached for comment, a TikTok representative tells Rolling Stone, “Hate and hateful ideologies have no place on our platform, and we’ve removed the content (including hashtag) and account you’ve shared that violate our Community Guidelines.” As of Thursday, Oct. 20, several of the anti-Semitic videos originally included in this article were removed, but others remain.
Posting a clip were West rails against the “Jewish media,” TikTok user @1brotherjoshua wrote that “Anyone who stands up to the synagogue of Satan is labeled crazy in the media & gets attacked.” Those who have smeared Jews as belonging to the “Synagogue of Satan” include anti-Semitic extremist Louis Farrakhan. Commenters have written “I believe him 100 percent…” and “Ye for president!” The video was later taken down.
A segment where West says he is “#MeToo-ing the Jewish culture” and “y’all gotta stand up and admit to what y’all been doing” earned the caption “Kanye goes on weird Jewish rant” from the TikTok creator who shared it. The comments section, in contrast, is full of agreement: “I love this man, he speaks facts,” “he’s so awake people are not understanding him..,” “Why do I all of a sudden love this guy,” “Unbelievably based Kanye.”
“Based,” a bit of slang the alt-right appropriated from Black culture to celebrate racism, is your password to even worse content from openly hateful accounts. A TikTok by @modern_crusader_0 with the hashtags #based and #jewsruletheworld combines footage of Kanye with audio they pulled from a 1933 speech denouncing Jews by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. The caption reads, “Kanye Wet [sic] in his next podcast interview be like.” A commenter with the display name “Heinrich Himmler,” as in the Nazi leader of the SS who helped engineer the Holocaust, wrote: “Very true, I agree with kanye.” After publication of this article, TikTok removed the video.
That TikTok users are play-acting as prominent Nazis on the app is evidently its own issue. On a different #based video glamorizing Kanye over a sequence of headlines about his anti-Semitic views, someone posing as Joseph Goebbels commented, “They fear the fact that he speaks the truth.”
Yet another Nazi speech mash-up, labeled “Kanye at the next concert hyping up the crowd,” drew thinly disguised quotations from Goebbels in the replies: “One day our patience will run out and the Juice insolent lying mouth will be shut,” wrote one user, clearly substituting the word “Juice” for “Jews” to avoid violating TikTok guidelines. And a post from someone with the display name “its.the.j3ws” overlaid Nazi rhetoric on video of West on stage, concluding with a slow-mo shot that syncs up his raised hand with a “Sieg Heil” shout, as if he is giving the Nazi salute.
The most popular of these videos, by @orthobro_fredrickv2, had more than 177,000 likes and features a fake headline supposedly from the Jerusalem Post referencing Goebbels’ infamous warning that German “patience” with Jews has “limits.” It’s one of the top search results for “kanye + jews” on the site. These videos have now been deleted.
Naturally, quite a few TikTokers continue to be critical of West for his stereotyping of Jewish people — even the Drink Champs hosts tried to push back on his statements during the interview — as well as his opinion of BLM and his relationship with Candace Owens. Even former president Donald Trump, who enjoyed Ye’s backing at one point in his term, reportedly said he’s been acting “crazy” and needs “help.”
Over on YouTube, though, comments for the podcast are troublingly positive: “‘If you want to know who rules over you, look at who you are not allowed to criticize’ we love you Ye,” reads the most-upvoted remark. The quote, often falsely attributed to the 18th-century French writer and philosopher Voltaire, actually comes from Kevin Alfred Strom, an American white supremacist and neo-Nazi who in 2008 was convicted for possession of child pornography.
West, who joined TikTok himself only last month, has over a million followers and used the app to share snippets from his recent Fox News interview with Tucker Carlson. (Certain parts of the conversation that saw West veering into anti-Semitism never aired but later leaked to the press.) Last week, he posted a video of himself saying that “it’s time for me to shut the fuck up for the first time, do exactly what everybody’s wanted me to do for the longest [time].”
Today, West reached an agreement in principle to buy the right-wing “free speech” Twitter clone Parler, suggesting that he might have more to say after all.
Update, Oct. 20, 4:10 pm: This story has been updated to include that TikTok took down several anti-Semitic videos that made use of Kanye West’s comments and likeness.