TikTok filter and ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ song criticised for antisemitism

Adam Smith
·2-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

TikTok users have criticised a new trend on the platform for being antisemitic.

The trend uses the “Expressify” filter to exaggerate their facial features, while also singing “If I Were A Rich Man” from the musical Fiddler on the Roof.

One TikTok user said the combination reminded them of the infamous, antisemitic “Jew-bwa-ha-ha.gif”.

“A lot of [people] are making jokes about money and greed, and … one person [was] calling themselves a goblin”, another said.

“People have been using the sound to mock ‘nigun’, which is a Jewish traditional form of singing that usually uses repetitive sounds rather than traditional lyrics”.

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On another video, a user had posted the caption: “Hey, maybe stop mocking traditional Jewish forms of musical expression! Thanks”.

The song seems to have risen in popularity on TikTok recently due to its sampling by Gwen Stefani in her songRich Girl. “To a lot of people, the only palatable version of the song is [this version], where they take out all cultural references to Judaism … and makes the entire song about capitalism”, another user explained.

“When you are making fun of how this song sounds, you are making fun of Jewish culture.”

The Expressify filter has been used on 85,000 videos, according to TikTok. The “ifiwerearichman” hashtag has been used on 4.5 million videos, while the “fiddlerontheroof” hashtag has been used 8.9 million videos.

"TikTok's mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy and we do not tolerate content, including trends, that promote anti-semitism and hateful behavior. We are committed to promoting a safe community environment and remove content that violates our Community Guidelines,” the company told The Independent. It also said the trend went against the company’s community guidelines and that it had removed the trend since it was first reported in this newspaper.

This is not the only instance where TikTok has been used to spread antisemitic content. A report from The Independent showed that conspiracy theories about George Soros and the Rothschilds received millions of views despite the company’s restrictions.

TikTok challenges have also had consequences for users, ranging from the relatively inconsequential to the gravely serious.

The “Don’t search this up” trend saw users sharing innocuous videos where they tell views not to look up a specific TikTok user – as their profile image is revealed to have pornographic or gory content in it.

A 12-year-old boy also died after taking part in the "blackout challenge" on TikTok that calls for people to choke themselves until they become unconscious.

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