Update (7/8/22): Following Media Matters’ report, the original video from Miller, as well as two of the misspelled hashtags (“PaulMillier” and “GypsyCrussader”), were removed from TikTok. Other iterations of the misspelled hashtags still remain active on the platform.
TikTok’s community guidelines ban content that “praises, promotes, glorifies, or supports violent acts or extremist organizations or individuals,” but the enforcement of these policies is often lacking. Bad actors have been able to effectively evade moderation on the platform by using simple variations of banned terms. Though Media Matters has been consistently highlighting the platform's problem existing in far-right ecosystems for over a year, TikTok has failed to adequately address it. In just the latest example, a video from a notorious neo-Nazi has remained active and racking up views on the platform for months.
The video, which has 5 million views and over 744,000 likes, features Paul Miller, a neo-Nazi white supremacist and convicted felon currently serving a 41-month sentence in federal prison for charges stemming from possession of a firearm. Miller is better known by his username “GypsyCrusader,” which features a derogatory term targeting Romani people.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, Miller “became increasingly popular in extremist circles for his racist and misogynist abuse on Omegle,” a website that randomly connects users. He would use “the app to harass women and minorities while dressed as supervillain comic book characters” and would then post “these interactions online to entertain his followers. He also began to sell white supremacist patches to his online followers.”
In the April 13 video identified by Media Matters, Miller is wearing a vest with what appear to be Nazi hate symbols -- a Totenkopf and SS bolts -- and says “I hate ni—.” The video strategically cuts to another clip before Miller finishes the racist slur.
Though his name and username are banned search terms and hashtags on TikTok, their misspelled counterparts “PaulMillier” and “GypsyCrussader” each have 6.3 million and 26 million views respectively. TikTok seems willing to ban specific terms but not to moderate the content on said terms with extra letters. This problem isn’t new on TikTok. As Media Matters documented last year, users could easily circumvent TikTok’s COVID-19 misinformation policies, including by using intentionally misspelled banned terms.
Miller’s popularity on TikTok was identified last summer by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue in an analysis of over 1,000 videos featuring extremism and hate. Researchers found that three of the top 10 most popular videos in that dataset, with 3.5 million views combined, were clips originally produced by Miller. Despite being aware of the popularity of this hateful content, TikTok is failing to moderate alternate spellings of his name and enabling the content to continue spreading with impunity on the platform.