Kanye West suspended from Twitter after posting swastika inside Star of David

Elon Musk intervenes after rapper posted image hours after airing antisemitic views in Alex Jones interview

Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, has been suspended from Twitter after he tweeted an image of a swastika blended with a star of David, less than two weeks after he returned to the platform.

The suspension took place hours after Ye praised Adolf Hitler and the Nazis in an interview on Infowars, a show hosted by the rightwing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

Ye was one of several high-profile Twitter users whose accounts were banned or restricted on the site who then had them reinstated after Elon Musk took over as owner.

Ye’s account was unlocked on 21 November, having previously been restricted for tweeting an antisemitic message.

Musk tweeted: “I tried my best. Despite that, he again violated our rule against incitement to violence. Account will be suspended.”

Musk has previously described his approach to content moderation as: “If in doubt, let the speech exist.” As well as reinstating Donald Trump’s account, Musk has declared a “general amnesty” for previously suspended accounts. Musk did not clarify whether Ye’s suspension would be permanent.

I tried my best. Despite that, he again violated our rule against incitement to violence. Account will be suspended.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 2, 2022

On Thursday night, Ye shared the image of the swastika over the Star of David, a symbol of Judaism. The tweet was swiftly deleted. Also on Thursday, it was announced that Ye was no longer buying Parler, the rightwing social media network. Parler said the decision was made “in the interest of both parties”.

“Let’s always remember this as my final tweet,” Ye wrote, posting an unflattering image of Musk half-naked on a yacht.

“That is fine,” Musk replied. “This is not,” he wrote on the deleted swastika tweet.

The rapper then began posting on Truth Social, the social media platform started by Trump, sharing text messages purportedly from Musk, in which the billionaire appeared to attempt to reason with him about the tweet.

“Sorry, but you have gone too far. This is not love,” Musk wrote.

“Who made you the judge,” Ye replied. He then shared a screenshot of his Twitter account showing he had been banned from tweeting for 12 hours for violating the platform’s rules.

Shielded behind a face mask, Ye appeared alongside the white supremacist Nick Fuentes on Infowars in an episode posted online on Thursday.

The rapper said: “I see good things about Hitler … Every human being has something of value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler.”

Jones replied: “The Nazis were thugs.”

“But they did good things too,” Ye said. “We gotta stop dissing the Nazis all the time.”

“Oh my goodness … just because you don’t like one group doesn’t mean –” Jones said, clearly uncomfortable. Ye interrupted: “I love Jewish people. But I also love Nazis.”

“I don’t think Hitler was a good guy,” Jones stated later. Ye replied: “There’s a lot of things that I love about Hitler. A lot of things.”

Norm Coleman and Matt Brooks, leaders of the Republican Jewish Coalition, condemned Ye’s comments, saying: “Given his praise of Hitler, it can’t be overstated that Kanye West is a vile, repellent bigot who has targeted the Jewish community with threats and Nazi-style defamation. Conservatives who have mistakenly indulged Kanye West must make it clear that he is a pariah. Enough is enough.”

On Friday, Joe Biden used Twitter to express fresh condemnation of antisemitism and political leaders that tolerate it, passively or otherwise.

“I just want to make a few things clear: the Holocaust happened. Hitler was a demonic figure. And instead of giving it a platform, our political leaders should be calling out and rejecting antisemitism wherever it hides. Silence is complicity,” Biden tweeted.

I just want to make a few things clear:

The Holocaust happened.

Hitler was a demonic figure.

And instead of giving it a platform, our political leaders should be calling out and rejecting antisemitism wherever it hides.

Silence is complicity.

— President Biden (@POTUS) December 2, 2022

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, echoed similar sentiments on Friday.

In an interview with CNN, Greenblatt said, “Antisemitism has been described ... as the oldest hatred. It existed before Kanye, it will persist long after Kanye.

“Yet there is no question that when one of the most well-known entertainers on the planet tries to somehow sanitize Adolf Hitler, suggests that Jews are behind these conspiracies to keep him down, to keep Black people down … and then again tweets out … this image of the Jewish star with the swastika, it can literally incite people to violence,” he said.

After Ye’s interview aired, a Twitter account run by Republicans in the US Congress deleted a tweet that had seemingly expressed support for Ye.

Musk, a self-declared “free speech absolutist”, came under pressure from the European Union over content moderation standards this week when the internal market commissioner, Thierry Breton, warned that the platform must “significantly increase” efforts to comply with new online legislation. The EU’s Digital Services Act requires tech firms to tackle problems including abusive posts and disinformation.

Since Musk took over Twitter in October, hate speech has proliferated significantly across the social media platform.

On Friday, the New York Times reported new findings from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the Anti-Defamation League and other organizations that monitor social media.

According to the findings, within two weeks of Musk’s takeover, antisemitic posts increased by more than 61%

Additionally, before the takeover, hate speech against gay men appeared an average of 2,506 times a day. However, after Musk bought the company, homophobic slurs jumped to 3,964 times a day.

Similarly, slurs against Black Americans appeared a daily average of 1,282 times before Musk purchased Twitter. However, after his takeover, hate speech jumped to an average of 3,876 times a day.

Maya Yang contributed reporting


Dan Milmo Global technology editor

The GuardianTramp

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