Since Elon Musk’s Takeover, Twitter Has Seen a Rapid Rise in Gen-Z, Neo-Nazi Antisemitism, New Study Shows
February 5, 2023
A study by the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) and the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI) has demonstrated that extremist elements have viewed Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter as an opportunity to rejoin the social media platform en masse. The study also indicates that a sea change is taking place on Twitter with respect to the proliferation of extremist antisemitic content.
Much attention has been paid to Kanye “Ye” West’s antisemitic tirade, and indeed NCRI/CAM’s data finds his remarks triggered a significant increase of 136% in toxic comments, threats, and identity attacks in tweets pertaining to Jews on the platform.
Furthermore, the data suggests that the influx of extremist activity onto Twitter began far before West’s statements, with an organized effort of extremist communities like the Gen Z, neo-Nazi “Groypers,” led by white supremacist Nick Fuentes. The report finds they acted as a vanguard — anticipating, planning for, and capitalizing on Musk’s acquisition of Twitter to popularize and disseminate hateful content. They did so with the expectation that Musk would provide a more hospitable platform for their brand of extremist content, joining Twitter at a rapid rate.
This report comes on the heels of Twitter briefly reinstating Fuentes’s account in late January, the only mainstream social media platform that has allowed his activity. Within hours of being reinstated, Fuentes’s second tweet was a video showcasing “ye24” and “Death Con 3,” a nod to West’s October tweet where he said he was going to go “death con 3 on the Jewish people.”
Using machine learning, natural language processing, open-source investigation of social media content, graph and time series analysis, and econometric techniques, NCRI examined how an antisemitic transformation has taken shape on Twitter and how these changes might relate to physical-world, antisemitic incidents. Combining CAM’s expertise in identifying emerging antisemitic trends with NCRI’s proprietary technology, insights are drawn from vast amounts of data across social media platforms in near-real time to uncover contemporary antisemitism on social media, and its real-life consequences.
Neo-Nazi Groyper accounts joined the platform first in response to Musk joining the board of the company, then surged to their highest levels (~2,000% growth) on April 15th, with the announcement of his purchase offer. Notable spikes also accompanied Musk’s formal acquisition of the platform (~1,000%) and the reinstatement on Twitter of former U.S. President Donald Trump. Baseline levels of new Groyper accounts continuing to join the platform have also surged and remained elevated by over 200%, suggesting sustained growth in Gen-Z neo-Nazi Groyper activity on Twitter.
“Since Elon Musk acquired Twitter, it has become not only a safe space for hate, especially antisemitism, but also a vector for its spread,” said Sacha Roytman Dratwa, CEO of CAM. “Many white supremacists and other extremists have perceived it as a place where there is permission to incite, and even a single tweet from someone like Nick Fuentes or ‘Ye’ has to the power to sow seeds of hate for years to come. It is a very real and tangible threat.”
Since Twitter accepted Musk’s offer in April, monthly references to tropes about “Soros” and “Globalists,” which are often antisemitic, have nearly doubled. This is of great concern, as the NCRI/CAM now characterizes online antisemitism as an upstream predictor of real-world incidents.
In fact, these impacts have emerged in tandem with a surge in real-world antisemitic activity, and the data suggests key antisemitic conspiracy terms on Twitter both correlated with and were useful for forecasting these activities.
“There is almost a horseshoe effect mobilizing against the Jewish people, with white supremacists, Black Hebrew Israelites, Islamists, and others working together on the only cause that unites them — a hatred of Jews,” said Joel Finkelstein, Chief Science Officer and Director at NCRI.
One example was from November last year when Christopher Brown (@vrilgod) replied to a heated argument on Twitter about the history of the transatlantic slave trade with the claim “Jews owned the ships.” Later that same day, Brown was arrested at New York City’s Penn Station carrying a “large 8-inch military-style knife, a blade longer than 4 inches, a Swastika arm patch, and a ski mask,” in connection to threats against a synagogue in the city. The tweet was subsequently uncovered, after being deleted, on the NCRI’s platform.
Brown — a white male linked to online neo-Nazi groups — had used a trope common to the Black Hebrew Israelites. His quip on Twitter and subsequent planned terror attack shows the convergence of different racial hatreds in new, unexpected ways that appear to be growing in popularity and attention, with a rash against Jews taking place in the physical world.
To view the full CAM/NCRI report on Twitter and its responsibility for a rise in antisemitism, click here.
Category:Studies & Statistics