While Elon Musk expresses himself in such a way that right-wing extremists recognize themselves in it, anti-fascists fly off Twitter. The user base is obviously changing.
While Twitter’s problem with far-right extremists has worsened since Elon Musk took over, several anti-fascist and journalistic US accounts have been blocked in recent days. This was compiled by the magazines Vice and The Intercept.
Intentionally or unintentionally, Musk is at least telling right-wing extremists that they have an ally in him, according to experts there. At the same time, he does little to counter the impression. Meanwhile, the Washington Post has determined that particularly radical US politicians from the Republican Party have gained hundreds of thousands of followers on the platform in recent weeks, while a striking number have lost on the other side.
Reasons unclear, but not decisive
As Vice summarizes, since the Twitter takeover, Elon Musk has had accounts of well-known neo-Nazis reactivated, an image of a racist who advocated that ex-President Donald Trump should be more like Adolf Hitler, videos of the racist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand deleted too late, used an anti-Semitic word-image, spread a popular far-right meme, and used a phrase, which was understood by right-wing extremists as praise for Adolf Hitler. Hate speech on the platform will continue to increase simply because of the moderation teams that have been cut together, and right-wing extremists in the USA would be happy to be able to spread their messages on a platform with a much wider reach than has been the case up to now.
n Segal of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which is dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, summed it up to Vice: “As the platform becomes a hellscape of anti-Semitism, racism, and bigotry, he happens to express himself like those who are responsible for it do it.” In one post, for example, he used a number that right-wing extremists use as a camouflaged Hitler salute, in another he used the anti-Semitic image of a “puppeteer” against a Jewish US officer. According to the ADL, even if this was not done consciously, it still spreads anti-Semitic language. Although we cannot know whether Musk knows the background and is doing it on purpose, it is much more important that right-wing extremists perceive this as support.
Musk also criticized the distribution of a picture of “Pepe the Frog”. Since Donald Trump’s successful presidential election campaign in 2016, it has been a particularly popular image among right-wing extremists. Regardless of what Musk means by that, you only have to look at the replies below the tweet to see how it’s being taken, Segal told Deadline. Of course, one does not know whether Musk knows the meaning, but actually, the US billionaire seems like someone who is familiar with the meme culture of the Internet: “The timing suggests that it is all intentional.”
Banned from Twitter
Meanwhile, The Intercept has collated that Twitter accounts have now been blocked for reporting on, among other things, far-right protests and intelligence on the attack on the Capitol following Donald Trump’s election defeat. An anti-fascist group that provides armed protection for LGBTQ+ events and an anarchist collective also lost their accounts. The only thing they have in common is that they were attacked by a well-known right-wing influencer from the USA. Musk had asked him on Twitter to report accounts to be blocked. However, one person concerned believes that his account may have only been reported in large numbers and blocked on Twitter due to a lack of control. He and the others probably don’t see a future on Twitter, they are now active at Mastodon.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post has been investigating that particularly well-known politicians from the right-wing fringe of the Republican Party have gained a massive number of followers in recent weeks. Familiar faces from the left edge of the Democrats are losing significantly. This indicates that comparatively left-wing people are leaving the platform in droves, while right-wingers are flocking there. Musk keeps claiming that since his acquisition, Twitter has been busier than ever. It will be a long time before Twitter dies and disappears completely, “like a rotting whale carcass,” Chad Loder told The Intercept. First, it will turn into a copy of the right-wing platform Gab — “plus crypto scams.” On his account, which has since been blocked, he had gathered information about the attack on the Capitol.