Army Suspends Officer After He Shares Offensive TikTok With 3M Followers
Update 9/16: Nathan Freihofer has returned to TikTok after exiting amidst controversy surrounding an anti-semetic video he made on the account. A spokesperson for the XVIII Airborne Corps told me the matter is still "under review," but Freihofer is permitted to use social media.
While the Army has won the battle to maintain their presence on Twitch following a scandal there, they’re cracking down on @_itsnate, the TikTok account belonging to an officer with over three million followers, after he made an offensive joke about Jewish people. In the video, which has since been deleted with the officer’s account, 2nd Lt. Nathan Freihofer says he’ll never be verified on the app because of his dark sense of humor. He then provides an example, saying a "Jewish person's favorite Pokémon character" is Ash (Ash Ketchum is the protagonist of the series).
“If you get offended, get the fuck out because it’s a joke,” he said, adding, “Don’t be a pussy.”
2nd Lt. Nathan Freihofer, a popular TikTok influencer with nearly 3 mil followers, posted a joke about the holocaust.— Paul Szoldra (@PaulSzoldra) August 31, 2020
“If you get offended, get the fuck out because it’s a joke,” he says.
May be contrary to Army's “Think, Type, Post” social media policy, but hey what do I know pic.twitter.com/TpkLr1xhPt
The North Carolina-based XVIII Airborne Corps felt differently.
“The XVIII Airborne Corps took swift action,” a spokesperson said over the phone, explaining that “pending the results of an investigation, the soldier has been suspended of all leadership authority.”
The spokesperson added that Freihofer’s statement is “completely inconsistent” with the XVIII Airborne Corps’s values. Freihofer often made videos that clearly documented his affiliation with the Army, at one point attempting to prove it to skeptics by showing Army machinery in a video.
Hate speech has wormed its way into every dark corner of the internet, and TikTok is no exception. The app has become a breeding ground for conspiracy theories and right wing propaganda, but rarely does it present itself so overtly that the offending account is dismantled in a matter of hours. President Trump, who has threatened to shut the app down by September 15 if it does not find a new U.S.-based owner (TikTok is owned by Chinese company Bytedance), has himself amplified anti-semitic images and accounts supporting the QAnon conspiracy theory on Twitter. Joe Biden, meanwhile, now has a four-point lead over Trump among the active-duty troops generally thought to be among the president's base.