May 23, 2024

TikTokers Cash In on Gifts Through Israel Palestine Live Matches

As the devastating Israel-Hamas war rages on, TikTokkers have been profiting from it by representing either Israel or Palestine and engaging in virtual battles.

A lesser-known livestream feature on the platform has now come under the spotlight after streamers started using it to cash in on the widespread interest in the conflict.

Some of the gifts received by the streamers in the course of these virtual battles even cost hundreds of dollars. Meanwhile, TikTok has been taking a steep cut of 50% of the earnings made by creators via these live matches.

How Do These Live Matches Work?  

The live stream function on TikTok allows creators to go up against each other and engage in 5-minute “Live Matches” where they score upon receiving gifts from their fans.

The winner is determined by the total value of gifts earned by the end of the five minutes. The creators can then cash out their winnings for real currency, but half the earnings go to TikTok.

A creator representing the Palestinians even had a winning streak of 72 live matches in an extended battle.

The Live Match feature on TikTok wasn’t so popular until recently, when the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7th left hundreds of people dead. As Israel proceeded to retaliate and declare war, TikTok creators with no links to either side of the conflict began engaging in live matches representing the two parties.

A creator roleplaying the Israelis would go up against one playing the role of the Palestinians while their supporters shower them with gifts to help them win.

The streamers could be seen encouraging and even shouting at their followers to show their support by continuing to donate expensive gifts. Several of these live battles have gone on for hours at length without a break.

Online battles between influencers on social media services aren’t new – these features have been around since at least 2016.

TikTok introduced Live Matches on the platform in 2021 but doesn’t mention the feature or explain how it works on its own webpage.

The difference between influencer battles on TikTok and other platforms, however, is that in the latter, the creators are usually required to show off a skill or complete a task to win gifts.

While the humanitarian crisis in Gaza keeps worsening, it doesn’t appear that any of the money earned off the conflict by TikTok creators will be donated to those actually suffering in the conflict.

A Greek-Georgian streamer and a Turkish streamer who paired up representing Israel and Palestine, respectively, seem to have cashed in the most. However, neither of the streamers replied to queries about their virtual battles or revealed anything about what they planned to do with the money.

To make things worse, the creators engaging in Live Matches over the Israel-Hamas conflict aren’t even making any sensible arguments for their respective sides. Instead, they are simply screaming at their followers to like, follow, and donate more gifts.

Abbie Richards, a research fellow at the Accelerationism Research Consortium who first highlighted the rise of TikTok Live Matches over the conflict, said that it was “gross to grift off atrocities”.

TikTok, which has already been accused of silencing certain viewpoints, now appears to be making money off people’s fascination with the conflict while fuelling hostilities by allowing users to engage in such virtual battles.

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