Just in case you thought pop culture hasn’t already hit “Tokbottom” of late, a Nazi-themed song went viral on TikTok, racking up more than 6.5 million views across multiple videos before getting pulled.
The now-banned jingle, which was sourced to a teenager in the UK, featured appalling anti-Semitic lyrics such as, “We’re going on a trip to a place called Auschwitz, it’s shower time,” reports the BBC. The words were in reference to the Nazi death camp in Poland where Jewish prisoners were mass-murdered during World War II under the guise of taking a communal shower.
The song was featured in over 100 videos after first surfacing as the soundtrack to a clip of a giant swastika-emblazoned scorpion attacking and killing people. It also appeared in a first-person shooter game where players kill enemies using poison gas, a clip from the computer game “Roblox” featuring a Hitler doppelgänger, and others depicting footage from documentaries of the Holocaust.
“It was incredibly distressing to watch this sickening TikTok video aimed at children,” Stephen Silverman, director of investigations and enforcement for the Campaign Against Antisemitism, tells the BBC.
Unfortunately, the sordid clips collectively amassed millions of views in less than three days before getting yanked from the platform — a culling process that took eight hours to complete.
Experts chalk up the song’s success to TikTok’s eyeball-seeking algorithm that allows offensive memes to metastasize rapidly.
While TikTok has remained tight-lipped about its content strategy, “it’s widely believed that it’s similar to other commonly used models that collect data on our content consumption and peers influenced network,” says Michael Priem, chief executive of Modern Impact.
He explains: “As specific videos gain momentum, the algorithm then promotes them more widely across the platform. Hence, the users [are] intuitively asking each other to ‘help this go viral.’
“Keeping our users safe is a top priority for TikTok, and our community guidelines make clear what is not acceptable on our platform,” said a TikTok representative. “We do not tolerate any content that includes hate speech, and the sound in question, along with all associated videos, have now been removed.”
They added that they were constantly working to “ensure TikTok remains a safe place for positive creative expression.”
This isn’t the only time TikTok has been in hot water of late. The video-streaming platform was recently targeted by the feds for allegedly violating children’s privacy. India infamously banned the app last month amid the nation’s military standoff with China, and the US is contemplating following suit over security concerns.