Still, it is unclear what prompted bin Laden’s letter to be shared.
According to a review of TikTok conducted by WIRED before the platform began removing videos, the first video directing viewers to read bin Laden’s letter was posted on Friday, November 10, by an account with just 3,800 followers. The video has only been viewed 1,133 times as of the morning of Friday, November 17, with just 12 comments.
However, the account is quite prolific, posting up to a dozen videos each day, most of which are reposted from other accounts. The account holder appears to be an avid Trump supporter and they share questionable content, including conspiracy theories linked primarily to President Joe Biden. A video shared this week suggested that Biden was actually a body double.
Unlike some of the later videos, which got many more views, the owner of this account did not read any of the content of the letter and simply told his followers: “It’s too much to say, but I need you to go Google it.” . Osama bin Laden’s “Letter to America” and read it. It will explain a lot of things.”
The video was released 24 hours after searches for Bin Laden’s letter increased. according to Google Trends data. The account holder did not respond to WIRED’s request for comment on how he learned of the letter. (A TikTok spokesperson told WIRED that the company was removing the Nov. 10 video after WIRED flagged it, and WIRED can confirm that the video has now been removed.)
Bin Laden’s letter didn’t get much attention on TikTok until Monday, November 13, when another TikTok user posted a video urging people to go read the letter. Again, this video, from an account with 12,800 followers, does not read specific lines from the letter, but shows the author apparently in shock upon discovering the contents of the letter.
This video gained much more attention and racked up more than 210,000 views before being removed on Thursday. Many other accounts tagged or referenced this video in their own “Letter to America” videos in the following days.
The account holder, who did not respond to a question from WIRED about where she first learned of the letter, posted a follow-up video on Wednesday, November 15, explaining that she had heard about the Bin Laden video during the end of week, but didn’t have time to post about this until Monday, November 13, although he didn’t say where he had seen it referenced.