WASHINGTON — Antisemitic posts on Twitter have dramatically spiked in the weeks since Elon Musk acquired the social media platform, researchers claimed hours after Kanye West was suspended for tweeting an image of a swastika inside a Star of David.
Antisemitic posts referring to Jews or Judaism soared more than 61 percent in the two weeks after Musk’s acquisition, the New York Times reported, citing online hate monitors such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Center for Countering Digital Hate.
The ADL noted that Twitter has significantly decreased its enforcement of its hate speech policy, taking action on only 30 percent of reported tweets down from 60 percent. Musk had offered “amnesty” for previously banned accounts that hadn’t broken the law or engaged in what he deemed “egregious” spam following an unscientific poll, leading to further concerns about increased hate speech and potential violence.
West’s suspension came hours after his appearance on Infowars alongside Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, during which West praised Hitler and Nazis and continued his weeks-long descent into antisemitic hysteria.
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Twitter had restricted West’s account in October following his initial threats against Jews, which led him to agree to purchasing the far-right Parler social media platform. This deal was scuttled following his Jones appearance and before his Twitter suspension.
West’s account was restored only hours after Musk completed his purchase of Twitter, though he said the move was taken before his acquisition.
Musk has said he would approach content moderation by forming a council with “widely diverse viewpoints” and that “if in doubt, let the speech exist.” Musk previously mocked ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, who had sharply criticized Musk for reinstating Donald Trump’s account after soliciting a public poll, by saying “hey stop defaming me!”
The ADL has spearheaded a campaign calling on advertisers to pause their spending on Twitter amid concerns following Musk’s takeover. Greenblatt had praised Musk earlier this month as an “amazing entrepreneur and extraordinary innovator,” calling him the “Henry Ford of our time” – a total reversal of Greenblatt’s warnings about Musk’s takeover earlier this year.
Following backlash over the comparison to the notorious antisemitic, Greenblatt acknowledged the reference was wrong though he remained cautiously optimistic about Musk.
Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security issued a terrorism advisory bulletin raising concerns about “enduring threats” to Jews, as well as LGBTQ and migrant communities, from violent extremists inside the U.S.
“Certainly the Jewish community seems particularly targeted in recent days by that kind of activity in our discourse,” a senior DHS official told NBC News when asked if West’s remarks contributed to increased threats to the Jewish community.