Fake AIPAC account endorses apartheid: Twitter storm

JTA – For a brief moment Thursday night, Twitter users read a message that was disturbing for anyone even remotely interested in advocacy issues for Israel.

“We support apartheid,” read a post on an account with the pseudonym AIPAC, an acronym for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The account’s profile picture is the same – a red and blue Star of David – as the real social media organization.

A message that is more surprising is that AIPAC is a staunch defender of Israel, including against attacks that tend to validate the idea that the country will implement a system of apartheid against the Palestinians. But it’s often the wrong message: the organization has once again become a victim of impersonation, tampering and abuse – as has often been the case since Elon Musk’s recent takeover of Twitter.

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It wasn’t until closer inspection that a user realized the account belonged to “AIPAC_USA”, not “AIPAC”.

The account pretending to be AIPAC was deleted, but the tweet was viewed and shared thousands of times. This has even been endorsed by accounts themselves pretending to be other personalities.

“I totally agree,” replied @KariLakeAZ, a fake account posing as the far-right Republican gubernatorial candidate following the Arizona vote count.

The case is one of countless cases of impersonation intended to provoke backlash or cause chaos — cases that have been on the rise since Musk acquired the platform for $44 billion two weeks ago.

Musk fired a dead Twitter staffer in the wake of his hiring and made sweeping changes to moderation and verification rules, while posting crude and controversial content himself.

Elon Musk arrives at the Met Gala 2022 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, May 2, 2022. (Angela Weiss/AFP/Archive)

This storm caused several users, advertisers, and employees to leave the area, giving way to people with bad intentions.

Musk himself communicated the rules applicable to impersonation; on Thursday, he said “parody” accounts must include that word in their title.

According to the media, a large number of senior executives, including those responsible for privacy and compliance, have left the Twitter boat in recent days.

As of Thursday night, the head of anti-hate speech and trust and safety issues, Yoel Roth, was still in place and clearly aligned with Musk’s positioning, explaining his new boss’s decisions and ensuring that Twitter takes hate speech seriously.

He even appeared with Musk at a meeting to placate panicked advertisers on Wednesday.

But after noticing the number of likes piling up under the fake AIPAC account post, Roth added to his Twitter bio: “ex.”

It’s hard to say at this point whether he’s resigned or been pushed out, but his departure from the company is a particularly worrisome sign for those hoping that the turmoil spawned by Musk’s arrival will eventually die down.

Roth has become a divisive figure within the company and has spearheaded Twitter’s efforts to stamp out online hate. Jewish and gay, not afraid to talk about personal matters (he once wrote that a DNA test revealed he was “very Jewish”) or about his liberal opinions, he drew the ire of critics on the right of Twitter. Immediately after Donald Trump’s inauguration, he wrote on Twitter that there are now “real Nazis in the White House”.

As part of his role, Roth led Twitter’s anti-Semitic harassment policy.

Twitter’s slogan at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco, Nov. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Last week, when bots and trolls are having a blast after Musk’s hiring, he talked about the steps taken to combat them and he declared: “Twitter’s policy has not changed. Hateful behavior is nothing to do with it.In his last post before he left, he noted that the steps taken to remove hateful content had been successful.

There were also lighter posts from Roth – which became increasingly rare as he became a public figure – posts that often focused on Jewish topics. In 2017, he published an article about a Hebrew children’s book that tells the story of a cat sitting on a carpet, waiting for other animals to join him. The cat ended up hissing at the other animals to scare them.

“I believe this book explains my personality perfectly,” Roth wrote.

Roth’s departure means Twitter has lost nearly all of its safety and security executives.

With everything happening in full public view, parodists and provocateurs are now having a field day and taking every opportunity to add malicious content to the platform.

Like AIPAC, other Jewish organizations were framed. Also on Thursday night, a fake account posing as the Anti-Defamation League posted a photo of Henry Ford, the notoriously anti-Semitic automaker, with the comment: “We’re so happy to be here. Elon Musk is the #HenryFord of our time. Change is a miracle! »

It didn’t take long for the tweet to be posted by @ADL_Official, not @ADL.

He echoed remarks made by ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt just a month ago when he praised Musk on television, casting him as Ford’s heir apparent to change. He said he was cautiously optimistic about Musk’s impending takeover of Twitter.

Greenblatt quickly apologized for his remarks about Ford and publicly expressed his frustration with Musk soon after.

Last week, in the face of renewed anti-Semitism on Twitter, the ADL called on advertisers to boycott the platform, which many did.

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