Violent, Celebratory Hamas Videos Garner Millions of Views, Despite Bans by Tech Platforms

Graphic videos produced by Palestinian militant group Hamas have been viewed millions of times across TikTok, X, and Facebook, NewsGuard found

By McKenzie Sadeghi | Published on Oct. 26, 2023


TikTok, Facebook, and X are rife with violent, graphic propaganda videos celebrating al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, despite efforts from Big Tech companies to crack down on such content, a NewsGuard analysis found. 

Since Hamas — which is designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and EU — launched its attack against Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, the group has largely advanced its messaging via first-person graphic videos on Telegram, including body cam-style footage of dead corpses lying in a raided building, a soldier in a pool of blood, and Israeli soldiers being dragged across the street. These videos have been migrating from Telegram and are now rapidly spreading on TikTok, Meta’s platforms, and X (formerly Twitter) — despite the stated policies of those platforms to bar such content. 

For example, Meta said in an Oct. 13, 2023, statement that “Hamas is banned from our platforms, and we remove praise and substantive support of them when we become aware of it.” X’s “Violent and Hateful Entities” policy says that users cannot “affiliate with or promote the activities of violent and hateful entities.” TikTok, owned and operated by Chinese conglomerate ByteDance, said in an Oct. 14, 2023, statement that it has “a zero-tolerance policy for content praising violent and hateful organizations and individuals,” which includes Hamas, a spokesperson told NewsGuard. 

Nevertheless, NewsGuard identified a total of 337 posts on TikTok, Facebook, and X containing graphic and violent footage from the al-Qassam Brigades that generated 3.61 million views combined from Oct. 7 to Oct. 20, 2023. All of the posts identified by NewsGuard were supportive of Hamas and consisted of branded videos originally posted to the group’s official Telegram bearing Hamas iconography. None of them carried a disclaimer alerting users that the video contained violent scenes. 

A professionally-produced propaganda video that circulated on TikTok (left), Facebook (center), and X (right) showing Hamas militants training for their attacks against Israel. (Screenshots via NewsGuard)

The videos identified by NewsGuard depicted graphic acts, including one showing militants kicking and taking photographs of a corpse in a pool of blood, a Hamas militant stomping on an apparent Israeli soldier’s face and taking him hostage, camouflaged militants carrying rifles and pushing a crying baby around in a stroller inside of what appears to be a raided Israeli home, and militants dragging soldiers across a dirt road by their vests.

The findings come amid the European Union’s investigation into X, TikTok, and Meta over the companies’ response to disinformation and violent terrorist footage relating to the Israel-Hamas War, which officials have stated could be illegal under the EU’s regulation addressing the dissemination of terrorist content. U.S. lawmakers have also called on tech giants to disclose details on content moderation efforts they have taken in response to the war. 

The videos identified by NewsGuard on the major platforms have generated hundreds of thousands of views. For example, the video of a Hamas militant stomping on a soldier’s face garnered 316,000 views on X, 123,000 views on TikTok, 19,000 views on Facebook in 13 days. The video was often posted alongside supportive Arabic and English-language captions such as, “Al-Qassam is the pride of Palestine.” 

The Hamas-produced video depicting militants dragging Israeli soldiers across a road by their vests, followed by a scene of a dead soldier lying in a pool of blood, was shared across all three platforms in 24 separate posts that jointly accumulated 329,170 views. Another showed three men being held hostage by Hamas at gunpoint. 

Others were less violent, but nevertheless described the militant group as “caring.” For example, a video of armed Hamas militants carrying babies inside of a raided Israeli home generated 42,000 views on TikTok, 5,600 views on Facebook, and 29,500 views on X. In the video, one man is seen telling what appears to be an Israeli child to “say ‘bismillah’ [in the name of Allah],” to which the child responds “bismillah.”

“Qassam fighters treating the children of Israeli soldiers…Share this to debunk the Israeli occupation and western media propaganda,” one user captioned the video on TikTok in English. A user on X captioned the video in English, “These are Hamas. They take care of Israel’s children while Israel kills our children.”

NewsGuard also found that while a search for the term “al-Qassam Brigades” on TikTok in English yields a message saying, “This phrase may be associated with behavior or content that violates our guidelines,” a search of the group’s name in Arabic resulted in hundreds of videos. (The warning appeared with search results, but the videos themselves did not contain any warning.) Many of the TikTok videos included in the analysis were associated with the hashtag  #AlAqsaFlood, which is what Hamas calls its attacks on Israel. The hashtag accumulated 392 million views in Arabic and 26 million views in English on TikTok as of Oct. 24, 2023.

While searching for “al-Qassam Brigades” in English on TikTok redirects to platform’s Community Guidelines (left), searching the phrase in Arabic (right) results in a page showing related content. (Screenshots via NewsGuard)

This is not the first time platforms have faced scrutiny over their handling of violent and graphic content. In November 2022, NewsGuard identified 160 TikTok videos that had been viewed one billion times that glorified acts of violence carried out by Russian mercenary group Wagner. 

In response to an October 2023 email from NewsGuard seeking comment on the presence of violent Hamas-produced videos on their platform, X’s press team responded with an automated response: “Busy now, please check back later.” A spokesperson for Meta responded requesting the list of Hamas videos identified by NewsGuard, and pointed to Meta’s Oct. 13, 2023, statement detailing the company’s efforts to address violent content related to the war. TikTok deleted four of the videos NewsGuard sent after reaching out for comment, and requested a list of all of the Hamas videos found by NewsGuard. The spokesperson directed NewsGuard to TikTok’s Oct. 14, 2023, statement describing the platform’s “continued actions to protect the TikTok community during the Israel-Hamas war.”

These findings were first reported in NewsGuard’s proprietary Misinformation Risk Briefing for clients.