NEW REPORT: Anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim actors grow 4x as quickly on X, exploiting Israel-Gaza conflict and Elon Musk’s policy changes

Posted on April 11, 2024 in Press releases.

  • Since the outbreak of Israel-Gaza conflict on October 7, accounts posting anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim content have seen a sharp rise in followers on X (Twitter)
  • 10 hateful accounts studied in a new report have seen their followings grow 4x quicker – successfully exploiting content moderation failures as well as boosted visibility for paid-for ‘X Premium’ accounts
  • Far-right influencer Jackson Hinkle gained 2 million of his 2.5 million total followers in the period since October 7, which coincided with an uptick in his dissemination of anti-Jewish conspiracy theories
  • Hinkle – who is banned from YouTube, Paypal, and WhatsApp – also has received payments directly from X through the platform’s new subscriber feature.
  • Report finds that X profits from anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim content in relation to Israel-Gaza, serving ads from legacy brands near hate speech and misinformation

WASHINGTON, D.C., 04/11/24 Accounts posting anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim content about the Israel-Gaza conflict are accumulating new followers on X at a significantly higher rate since October 7, exploiting policy changes enacted under Elon Musk’s ownership of the platform.

The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) studied ten influential X accounts – each of whom has become notorious for spreading either anti-Jewish or anti-Muslim hate – with a combined following of almost 7 million followers.

Each of the accounts showed slow follower growth in the four months before October 7th, for a combined growth of approximately 1 million followers. 

But in the four months following the attack, they collectively gained 4 million new followers. Collectively, this represented a four-fold growth compared to the four months before October 7th.

Influencer Jackson Hinkle’s following has grown the fastest. Hinkle gained 244,571 followers in the four months prior to October 7, compared to 2,036,957 in the four months after October 7, equivalent to a rate 8.3x quicker.

This period has coincided with a marked uptick in Hinkle’s dissemination of anti-Jewish conspiracy theories. Hinkle has previously received direct payments from X through ad revenue sharing and his subscription service.

CCDH’s report also finds that X is potentially profiting from the anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim content, serving CCDH tester ads next to hateful posts from brands like Oreo, the NBA, the FBI, Elon Musk’s Starlink – and even X itself. 

Each of the ten accounts have been members of ‘X Premium’, which enables accounts to benefit from prioritized ranking in the algorithm, meaning some subscribers are given priority over those of non-premium users (one of the ten accounts studied had their X Premium membership revoked in the time that the research was completed). 

Six of the ten accounts in the study have activated X’s paid subscription feature, allowing them to generate revenue directly from subscriber-only content, some of which is taken by X itself. The platform has stated that users receive up to 97% of the revenue from subscriptions on earnings up to $50,000, after in-app purchase fees, and 80% over $50,000.

CCDH’s analysis also shows that well-meaning users who reshare hateful content in order to criticize or condemn it help to significantly boost its visibility on X – contributing to as much as 28% of the reach of that hateful content.

Imran Ahmed, CEO and founder of the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), said:

“If you use X, it’s highly likely you’ve seen Jackson Hinkle or another of these hateful accounts on your timeline in recent months, even if you don’t follow them or endorse their despicable views of Jews and Muslims. It’s not a coincidence – it’s the result of deliberate policies enacted by Elon Musk.

“Musk has effectively welcomed back the worst hate actors to his platform with open arms, and given them tools to turn war and human suffering into clout or potentially even cold, hard cash – all paid for by America’s biggest and best-loved brands.

“The public and advertisers need to know more about the symbiotic, profitable relationship between X and hate-peddling ‘influencers’. Lawmakers must act to enforce greater transparency and accountability from platforms and to allow these companies to be held responsible for harming the civil rights and safety of Jews, Muslims and other minority communities.”