Social media used to be a haven of free speech. It dethroned gatekeepers of information and offered a voice to the voiceless. But unlike most heroes, it stuck around long enough to become the villain. Social media is just the new gatekeeper. And for Hila, it’s personal.
Hila started making TikTok content about Jewish-Israeli history in 2020 under the account name @toteskosh. She shared about life as an Orthodox Jewish woman and discussed Zionism with respect for both the Jewish and Palestinian people of Israel.
Keeping the discourse open and respectful was key to her brand. “I have always taken pride that I never take down others to lift up my own,” Hila explains. “I simply wanted to share the history of my country and people, bring awareness to the rise in the world’s oldest hatred, and educate people about Jewish values, customs, and traditions.”
Her following grew quickly — and so did the blowback. “I was constantly targeted by antisemites for being a proud Zionist who shared Israeli history,” Hila recalls. “I was threatened and insulted, and my home address was posted all over TikTok.”
Rather than addressing these aggressive threats and antisemitic slurs, TikTok began removing videos from the @toteskosh feed and banning the account for weeks at a time.
When Hila reached 6,000 followers, her account was permanently banned. She appealed, but the platform wouldn’t budge. It was clear that TikTok had picked a side — choosing to stand with those hurling antisemitic slurs on its platform.
But Hila would not be deterred. She created another TikTok account named @totallykosher, and it was even more popular than the first. Her videos earned thousands of views (sometimes even tens of thousands) with high engagement. Unfortunately, the haters followed.
“I was still targeted by antisemites, and whenever I tried to report their sympathies for Hitler, or their emojis implying I should be gassed, TikTok told me these people didn’t actually violate the guidelines,” Hila remembers.
Still, she persevered, and after three years of building her platform, despite many videos being taken down, suspensions, and threats, Hila reached more than 24,000 followers and 1 million likes on her @totallykosher TikTok account.
But her account was banned shortly after.
First, TikTok sent Hila an email claiming they banned her because she was under the age of 13. She sent multiple appeals with ID confirming she was 23. It did not make a difference.
Next, TikTok sent Hila an email claiming she violated its Community Guidelines. The email did not specify which ones. It also failed to specify what posts were in violation of the guidelines.
Hila is still trying to appeal and reclaim her old account, and in the meantime is posting under a backup TikTok account, @purimenthusiast, with a much smaller following.
She cannot access any data from her old account. Her three years of hard work were completely lost.