Elon Musk just brought an infamous neo-Nazi back to Twitter • Zoo House News
- December 2, 2022
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You may have crossed the line by tweeting a swastika superimposed with a Star of David, but you can’t blame other Nazi apologists for getting mixed signals.
On Thursday night, Musk personally intervened after the artist formerly known as Kanye West shared the icon. “I tried my best,” Musk tweeted in response to a tweet that raised alarm over West’s behavior. “Nevertheless, he again violated our rule against incitement to violence. Account will be suspended.”
On Truth Social, West shared a screenshot showing he was banned from Twitter for just 12 hours — a relatively lenient sentence. But West’s account was still suspended as of 1:00 p.m. PT Friday.
Hours before his suspension, West openly revealed his anti-Semitic beliefs in an interview with Alex Jones. West appeared on the show wearing a full face mask and praised Hitler, repeatedly declaring his “love” for Nazis and doubling down when a visibly awkward Jones gave him a chance to backtrack.
As Nazi-related hashtags, Twitter’s trending topics are taking on the notorious neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin reappeared on the page, who tweeted from a new name associated with the account he suspended in 2015. Anglin, who created white supremacist website The Daily Stormer, explored Twitter’s new rules in a reply to Musk. “You got a 12-hour ban for tweeting a Star of David with a swastika in it… Whatever the rules, people are going to abide by them. We just need to know what the rules are.”
Anglin was removed from the wider Internet when companies providing The Daily Stormer’s web hosting, DDoS protection, and other utilities went out of business in 2017. This push against the website, which is named after a Nazi propaganda leaflet, came after Unite The right-wing rally in Charlottesville warned of a rising tide of overt white supremacy in the US. In a speech he penned, which was read aloud at the rally (Anglin was not present), Anglin warned that he and his supporters would soon be “digging graves” and called for the deaths of “enemies of the white race.”
Anglin’s fans quickly welcomed him back onto the platform. One account with an apparent reference to white supremacy in its name tweeted that it would check in for duty. Other neo-Nazi and white supremacist accounts have criticized Musk’s actions against West, calling it an unexpected betrayal.
Richard Spencer is also benefiting from Musk’s changes on Twitter. Spencer, a Unite the Right organizer and an outspoken white nationalist who has given supporters the Nazi salute, is now a verified Twitter user paying for a monthly subscription to Twitter Blue. Spencer is currently promoting a Twitter space declaring “Yeism triumphs.”
Twitter’s pre-Musk policy against hateful behavior is still online, but the company’s new owner seems to be boosting it for the most part lately. Last week, Musk conducted a Twitter poll of his followers and later declared “amnesty” for any accounts that “have not broken the law or engaged in egregious spam.” This decision potentially set up thousands of accounts that had previously violated Twitter’s anti-hate and harassment policies to be reinstated on the platform.
Musk’s one-man approach to content moderation is unlikely to catch on. Billionaire Tesla and SpaceX CEO slashed Twitter’s moderation teams when he took over the company last month. He also lost Yoel Roth, Twitter’s Global Head of Trust & Safety, who has guided the company through many of its most delicate policy decisions in recent years. “One of my limitations has been when Twitter is governed by a dictatorial edict rather than politics … there’s no longer any need for me in my role to do what I do,” Roth said this week in his first interview since his Departure.
Despite his early promises for political advice, Musk has so far relied on unscientific Twitter polls aimed at his supporters to set the platform’s rules. According to ADL research, white supremacists and other extremists recognized the opportunity and encouraged their supporters to participate in Musk’s “amnesty” poll on Telegram.
A Telegram channel with thousands of followers warned members who plan to return to Twitter: “Stop using obvious insults; don’t make it easy for them.”