[DE] TikTok deletes 91 Nazi profiles and 169 violent videos following media authority warning

IRIS 2021-9:1/24

Mirjam Kaiser

Institute of European Media Law

According to a press release published on 29 July 2021 by the Medienanstalt Hamburg/Schleswig-Holstein (Hamburg/Schleswig-Holstein media authority – MA HSH), one of Germany’s 14 media regulators, the TikTok social media platform recently deleted 91 profiles and 169 videos containing either Nazi references or scenes of violence that could be harmful to minors after receiving a notification from the MA HSH.

The TikTok platform is a video portal that enables users to upload music videos or short video clips. It also includes social networking features and is operated by the Chinese company ByteDance.

The MA HSH notifications concerned violations of Article 4(1)(1)(2) of the German Jugendmedienschutz-Staatsvertrag (state treaty on the protection of minors in the media – JMStV). Under this provision, telemedia content is illegal if it uses insignia of organisations prohibited under the German Constitution, as defined in Article 86a of the Strafgesetzbuch (Criminal Code – StGB). In this case, the profiles and videos contained Nazi symbols such as swastikas, SS runic insignia and the skull and crossbones. These symbols fall under Article 86a StGB, which prohibits their dissemination on account of their association with the Nazi regime in Germany.

According to the MA HSH, the profiles and videos concerned could have a frightening and harmful effect on children and young people, which is why they were prohibited. As part of its investigation, the MA HSH also found 169 other TikTok videos that it thought would have a similar effect. These included scenes of violent fighting and dismemberment from 18-rated computer games such as “Mortal Kombat”, “Resident Evil” and “The Last of Us”.

TikTok paid particular attention to the notifications received from the MA HSH concerning the 91 profiles, the videos containing Nazi references and the 169 violent videos, because the media regulator holds “preferential reporting status”, which enables it to contact the social media operator directly. It acquired this status in July 2021 by becoming a member of TikTok’s “Government Reporting Channel”. It also holds a similar position in relation to YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, enabling it to contribute to the fight against unlawful content and online hate.


This article has been published in IRIS Legal Observations of the European Audiovisual Observatory.