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Social media app TikTok removes pro-Islamic State propaganda posts

TikTok said it removed ten accounts that posted videos, including those of corpses being dragged through the streets
An image grab taken from a video released on May 13, 2018 by Amaq, the Islamic State group's propaganda agency (AFP)

A popular Chinese-owned social media app has removed accounts that were posting propaganda material in support of the Islamic State (IS) group, a company employee said on Tuesday. 

TikTok, a platform particularly popular with teenagers across the world, removed 10 accounts featuring videos of corpses being paraded through the streets and IS militants brandishing guns, the Wall Street Journal reported. 

The company has been beset by controversy in recent months.

"Only one of those videos even had views that reached into double digits before being taken down," said the TikTok employee, who declined to be named.

The app allows users to create and share fifteen-second videos. It claimed some 500 million users last year, making it one of the most popular social media apps. 

In a statement emailed to AFP, the company said: "Content promoting terrorist organisations have absolutely no place on TikTok.”

"We permanently ban any such accounts and associated devices as soon as identified, and we continuously develop ever-stronger controls to proactively detect suspicious activity," it added.

The Islamic State group’s use of social media has been crucial to its success in drawing supporters to its cause. 

While its self-declared “caliphate” across parts of Iraq and Syria fell in March, it remains active throughout parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia, remaining a source of inspiration for some through its online presence.

Storyful, a social media intelligence firm, which first discovered the accounts, said that the Chinese company was struggling to keep track of content posted on its platform.

"Unlike other platforms, which are centred around users' friends or communities, TikTok is based on engaging with a never-ending stream of new content," said Darren Davidson, the editor-in-chief of Storyful. 

"The ISIS postings violate TikTok's policies, but the sheer volume of content makes it difficult for TikTok to police their platform and root out these videos," he said. 

In April, TikTok was briefly banned in Indian for allegedly promoting pornography to children.

The app is also banned in Bangladesh and was heavily fined by the United States for illegally collecting information from children.