Less than a day after rapper Kanye West was suspended from Twitter for posting an image of a swastika inside a Star of David, the social media platform reinstated the account of the avowed white supremacist and online blogger Andrew Anglin, who was kicked off the platform almost a decade ago.
Anglin, 37, created the Daily Stormer – described as “arguably the most influential neo-Nazi website in America during the latter half of the 2010s” by the Southern Poverty Law Center – in 2013 and is a central figure in the white nationalist movement in the United States. His site, which takes its name from Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer, includes sections titled “Jewish Problem” and “Race War” and his campaigns of targeted harassment have led to multiple lawsuits.
His reinstatement as part of a promised “amnesty” of banned accounts under new owner Elon Musk, who recently tweeted that he would reinstate users who hadn’t broken the law. This included Kanye West, whose account was suspended on Thursday.
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.
In a post marking his return to Twitter, Anglin wrote that he had “deleted all the old stuff that was on this account” and promised to “strictly follow whatever the rules are. If I get banned, it's not for anything I said, it's just because I'm me."
He then went on to defend West, tweeting that “just to be clear, what Ye posted was the symbol of the Raelians, an Israeli alien sex cult. That is: an Israeli sex cult that believes in aliens.”
Antisemitic posts on Twitter have dramatically spiked in the weeks since Elon Musk acquired the social media platform, according to researchers. 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 last Thursday, 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 the enforcement of its hate speech policy, taking action on only 30 percent of reported tweets down from 60 percent.
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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!”
Last 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.
Twitter has also cut its human rights team and last Tuesday Twitter's former head of trust and safety Yoel Roth told Reuters that the social media company was not safer under new owner Elon Musk, warning in his first interview since resigning this month that the company no longer had enough staff for safety work.
Before Musk assumed the helm at Twitter, about 2,200 people globally were focused on content moderation work, said Roth, adding that he did not know the number after the acquisition because the corporate directory had been turned off.
Twitter under Musk began to stray from its adherence to written and publicly available policies toward content decisions made unilaterally by Musk, which Roth cited as a reason for his resignation.
"One of my limits was if Twitter starts being ruled by dictatorial edict rather than by policy…there's no longer a need for me in my role, doing what I do," he said.
Reuters contributed to this report.