In the wake of a series of anti-Semitic attacks in New York City during Hanukkah 2019, online troll sites and fake social media accounts moved to foment both disinformation and tension by pitting Jewish and Black communities against one another.
As CNN reported, a Twitter account going by the fake name “@egoldschmidt20” operated for hours posting anti-Black material before being removed on January 1 2020.
The account used the photograph of an actual Twitter user, Scottish comedian Janey Godley, and passed it off as its own:
— Janey Godley (@JaneyGodley) January 2, 2020
“It was very basically clear they were using my image, they were using anti-Semitic and racist words,” she told CNN.
Other users said that they reported the bogus account for posting offensive remarks to Twitter’s support team, only to be told that it did not violate the platform’s rules.
“While we want people to freely express themselves on our service, the Twitter Rules strongly prohibit users from promoting violence against, threatening or harassing people on the basis of race, ethnicity or other protected groups,” Twitter said in a statement to CNN:
There’s always room for improvement, but we remain deeply committed to improving the health of the conversation on the service, and prioritizing the safety of our users.
However, we found that another account using the same photograph of Godley, “@ElaineGold6,” appeared on Twitter a day after “Goldschmidt” was removed. The account also posted the hashtags #ItsOkayToBeWhite (a common refrain among online white nationalists) and #JewishLivesMatter, an appropriation of the Black Lives Matter campaign:
After contacting Twitter alerting them regarding “@ElaineGold6,” a company spokesperson told us that this new account had also been permanently suspended.
The “Jewish Lives Matter” phrase can also be found in a 4chan thread highlighted by author and journalist Max Sperber, in which users traded ideas on how to spread content painting Black people as inherently anti-Semitic:
On that same thread, another user suggested creating a meme asking whether the Holocaust or the Atlantic slave trade was “worse.”
“This would make the Left have to choose which minority has been more ‘oppressed’ in society,” the user wrote “Depending on which they decide to rally behind, we can call them either a racist or an antisemitic bigot for not supporting the other.”
The thread also included photographs of other suggested memes, including the phrase “Blacks need to respect Jewish authority”:
“The more abrupt, the better. Kangz are an emotional people,” the user wrote, using a smear against Black men. “Play to their emotions. Blacks must respect Jewish authority. Black [sic] must respect Jewish supremacy.”
According to CBS News, at least 13 anti-Semitic attacks have taken place in New York City since December 23 2019. Two women were arrested in connection with the latest incident, an attack on a 22-year-old Hasidic Jewish man that was captured on surveillance video.