White supremacists are using their premium subscriptions on the social media site X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, to exploit the Israel-Hamas conflict and amplify antisemitic, Islamophobic, and racist narratives online.
A new report by the Tech Transparency Project, a social media watchdog, looked at how dozens of these paid subscribers are flagrantly violating X’s policies against hate incitement speech—all while enjoying the perks of being a premium user. Those perks often include blue ticks, which many extremists wield like a badge of authority, as well as algorithmic boosts.
The report comes as Elon Musk, who acquired X around a year ago, is once again under fire for engaging with antisemitic content on the site.
A verified user on X posted a statement claiming that “Jewish communities have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them” and referenced “hordes of minorities” coming to the U.S.
Musk responded to the post on Wednesday evening, “You have said the actual truth.”
Extremists both online and offline have opportunistically sought to hijack the discourse online around the Israel-Hamas conflict, imbuing it with racist, antisemitic tropes and language, all with the apparent goal of stoking divisions, spreading fear, amplifying their ideology, and dragging the overall conversation towards the fringes.
Many of the premium accounts identified by the Tech Transparency Project have repeatedly promoted the Great Replacement conspiracy theory in the context of the current conflict in the Middle East, which claims claims Jews are part of a plot to bring more immigrants into the U.S. with the ultimate goal of “replacing” white people. That was the same theory that the Tree of Life synagogue mass shooter regurgitated online prior to his deadly attack in 2018, which left 11 Jewish Americans murdered.
“The Jews are importing Muslims into our nations,” one account, who describes themself as a “White Ultra National” and features neo-Nazi imagery in their profile picture, wrote last month. “While the Jews and the Muslims argue for their own Ethnostates, we are being deprived of having one.” That user described Jews and Muslims as “culture parasites” and “cancer.” Another X Premium account identified by the Tech Transparency Project, which has more than 19,000 followers, regularly makes references to “white genocide” and has tried to peddle Great Replacement narratives into the conversation about the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Premium subscribers on X are beholden to the same terms of service as regular users. The platform prohibits “inciting fear or spreading fearful stereotypes” about people belonging to protected categories.
Soon after Musk completed his acquisition of then-Twitter last year, he announced a “general amnesty” for accounts that had previously been suspended. This opened the floodgates for the white supremacists and neo-Nazis, who’d been banished under previous ownership, to return to the site in full force.
Musk’s pay-to-play feature has afforded those same accounts the opportunity to buy prominence and veneer of legitimacy on the site, which has been repeatedly criticized for platforming —even monetizing—disinformation and hate.
A separate new report by Media Matters for America found recent examples where X had placed ads for Apple, Bravo, Oracle, Infinity, and IBM next to posts about Hitler or the Nazi party. The watchdog has previously identified other examples where corporate ads were placed next to white nationalist, neo-Nazi and Holocaust denying accounts.
When VICE News reached out for comment for this story, X’s press account responded “Busy now, please check back later.”