TikTok, a social media platform with more than a billion active users globally, remains a champion of disinformation about the Israel-Hamas war and the resulting escalation in the Red Sea, where Iranian-backed Yemeni Houthi rebels disrupt civilian marine traffic, attacking and destroying commercial vessels.
On January 17, the United States redesignated the Houthis as a major terrorist group.
On January 22, the Houthis claimed to have attacked a United States military cargo ship, called the Ocean Jazz, in the Gulf of Aden.
The U.S. says that claim is false.
On January 23, TikToker mr09934, who has repeatedly posted alarmist content about events in the region, shared video footage showing a missile launch, which then cuts to scenes of firefighting efforts around a damaged ship.
The caption reads: “Houthi sources confirm a direct hit on the American military cargo ship 'Ocean Jazz' in the Gulf of Aden #viral #fypシ #foryou #fyp #yemen #USA #news #live”
That is false.
The video does not show an attack or the aftermath of an attack on the Ocean Jazz.
The footage shows firefighters attempting to combat a blaze on the USS Bonhomme Richard, a U.S. Navy Wasp-class amphibious assault ship that caught fire while moored at Naval Base San Diego on July 12, 2020.
The USS Bonhomme Richard was extensively damaged, leading it to be decommissioned and sold for scrap on April 15, 2021.
Yet the mr09934 post had received 27.7K likes and over 858,00 video views by January 25, and has been reposted by scores of TikTokers. As of January 26, mr09934’s post was no longer visible on the user’s page.
Despite no evidence of an attack, on January 22, Houthi spokesman Yahya Saree claimed the group had “led a military operation targeting the American military cargo ship Ocean Jazz in the Gulf of Aden,” near the Red Sea, using the “appropriate naval missiles.”
It is not clear from that statement if the Houthis intended to communicate that the attack was successful.
However, the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet denied claims the Ocean Jazz had been struck.
“The Iranian-backed Houthi terrorists’ report of an alleged successful attack on M/V Ocean Jazz is patently false. NAVCENT (United States Naval Forces Central Command) has maintained constant communications with M/V Ocean Jazz throughout its safe transit,” the U.S. 5th Fleet said in a statement posted on X on January 22.
Saree claimed the attack had been carried out as a show of support to “the oppressed Palestinian people,” as well as a response to “aggression” by the United States and United Kingdom against Yemen.
On January 11, the U.S and U.K., with support from Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and Bahrain, conducted joint strikes on Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels in response to months of attacks on merchant and commercial vessels in the Red Sea.
Those and strikes on targets within Yemen that have followed are intended to halt the Houthis’ capacity to carry out attacks in the Red Sea and beyond.
The Houthi attacks have occurred in international waters, violating the right of innocent transit and passage.
The Houthis have falsely claimed that they have targeted only Israeli, U.K. and U.S. ships, along with ships traveling to Israel.
The Houthi attacks have forced shippers to reroute merchant vessels, driving up shipping costs and significantly extending travel times and distances.
Since the Israel-Hamas war began on October 7, 2023, Polygraph.info has been documenting false claims that flood social media networks with recycled footage to support false, misleading or otherwise unsubstantiated narratives about the conflict and related events in Yemen and the Red Sea.