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As anti-Semitism rises after Elon Musk takeover, ADL calls for Twitter ad boycott

JTA – Jewish groups thought Elon Musk was listening to them about anti-Semitism on Twitter. Then Kanye West came back.

In the week after the rapper who now goes by Ye lost most of his endorsements over his anti-Semitic rants, and amid an apparent increase in broader anti-Semitic content on the platform, the Anti-Defamation League met with Musk, the social media giant’s new mercurial. owner, to keep hate speech off the site.

Three days later, all goodwill from the meeting has worn off, as anti-Jewish content on Twitter experiences a “productive increase“, according to the Network Contagion Research Institute, a firm that monitors the spread of hate and disinformation online. The institute said Friday that “terms associated with Jews are tweeted over 5,000 times per hour,”[ads1]; and that “the most engaged tweets are openly anti-Semitic ».

Meanwhile, West has begun calling out individual Jews, such as music mogul Scooter Braun and sports branding businessman Jamie Salter, on his account, and online networks of anti-Semites have seized on Musk’s ownership as an opportunity to launch a full-fledged hate press. content on the website.

Now, instead of working with Musk to develop new content moderation tools, the ADL is asking all advertisers to suspend their relationship with Twitter, while issuing a scathing criticism of Musk’s leadership.

“We met with Elon Musk earlier this week to express our deep concerns about some of his plans and the increase in toxic content following the acquisition,” the Stop Hate For Profit coalition, a group that includes the ADL, said in a statement. “Since then, hatred and disinformation have spread and he has taken actions that make us fear the worst is yet to come.”

As anti-Semitism rises after Elon Musk takeover, ADL calls for Twitter ad boycott

In this Dec. 13, 2016, file photo, Kanye West walks into Trump Tower in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The group’s relationship with Musk derailed with astonishing speed. At their first meeting, the ADL and various members of the coalition, including the NAACP, Color of Change, the Asian American Foundation and media equity group Free Press, had pushed Musk to develop robust content moderation tools.

The groups also tried to get Musk to stop tweeting out conspiracy theories and problematic content himself. The entrepreneur had previously tweeted, and then deleted, a link to a right-wing conspiracy theory involving a man who had attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband at his home (the attacker himself was active in many anti-Semitic conspiracy theories online).

Musk tweeted approvingly about the ADL meeting afterward (a move that infuriated some of his anti-Semitic fans), and ADL Vice President Yael Eisenstat told the Protocol that Musk had assured the groups that he did not want Twitter to become “an amplifier of hate.”

But late Thursday, West — one of Twitter’s most popular users, with 38 million followers — began his latest anti-Semitic tirade on the platform, to which he had recently been reinstated after a suspension for hate speech. Musk said he played no role in West’s reinstatement.

Apparently prompted by the media attention given to Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving in the wake of the star guard’s own anti-Semitism controversy, West posted a series of conspiratorial messages about various Jewish figures. In addition to Braun and Salter, he personally called out celebrity coaches Harley Pasternak and Amar’e Stoudemire — the former NBA star who converted to Orthodox Judaism in 2020 and had a brief stint as a Nets assistant coach.

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving looks on during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers, Monday, Oct. 31, 2022, in New York. (AP/Jessie Alcheh)

“You can’t be anti-Semitic when you know you’re a Semite,” West tweeted in defense of Irving, who shared a link to an anti-Semitic documentary. Irving had expressed the same idea in a press conference on October 29, which led to the Nets suspending him. He later apologized for his rhetoric.

In later tweets, West said, “They make us bully ourselves because of our business alignments.”

Referring to Stoudemire, who is Black and who criticized Irving for his refusal to condemn anti-Semitism, West wrote: “They make us attack each other[,] even our brothers who know who we really are.”

The wording of West’s tweets referenced common tropes that have circulated among black Hebrew Israelite communities, including that they are the genealogical descendants of the ancient Israelites. As of Friday afternoon, West’s account remained active on Twitter.

Also recently reinstated on Twitter: the account of Mark Finchem, Arizona’s Republican candidate for Secretary of State, whose account had been suspended. Finchem, who has received a reported $10,000 in donations from the far-right anti-government militia Oath Keepers despite his own insistence that he is not a member of the group, regularly tweets references to Jewish billionaires George Soros and Mike Bloomberg who “fund » his Democratic opponent. He has also proudly accepted the support of Andrew Torba, an outspoken anti-Semite and founder of the Gab social media platform, which is full of anti-Semitic users.

From left, Michigan Secretary of State candidate Kristina Karamo, Arizona Secretary of State candidate Mark Finchem and Nevada Secretary of State candidate Jim Marchant attend a US conference on voting machine conspiracy theories and discredited claims about the 2020 presidential election at a hotel in West Palm Beach, Fla., Sept. 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Jim Rassol)

Finchem’s account was restored just over a week before the midterm elections and before Musk’s meeting with the ADL. The candidate, who is also denying the results of the 2020 election, thanked Musk for reinstating him, declaring: “Twitter is much better with you at the helm.”

Like other right-wing politicians and media figures who regularly refer to Soros, Finchem has said such behavior is not anti-Semitic. He refuted the charge of anti-Semitism by declaring:I love the Jews,” but has also frequently used language calling his opponents “Marxists,” a charge that historically antisemites dating back to Great Depression radio preacher Father Coughlin have leveled at liberal or secular Jews.

All this activity came as Twitter employees braced for a round of mass layoffs Friday, with as many as half of the company’s 7,500 jobs on the line — and saw further chaos at the company as Musk has sought to rethink his top-down operation. . The layoffs could jeopardize future attempts to create coherent new guidelines for how content is moderated and how accounts are restored. Musk said such a process would take “weeks.”

The Twitter headquarters stand on Market Street on November 4, 2022 in San Francisco, California. (David Odisho/Getty Images/AFP)

As Musk moved forward with his plans, and threats of real-world violence at synagogues mounted, Jewish users expressed anger and frustration. A few said they wanted to leave altogether.

“At this time, we encourage advertisers to pause globally until it becomes clear whether Twitter remains committed to being a safe place for advertisers as well as the community at large,” Stop Hate For Profit said in its statement.

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