NEW YORK (JTA) — Fake Twitter accounts impersonating Jews and promoting anti-Semitic conspiracy theories have proliferated following a post on the online messaging forum 4chan.
The author of the post urges readers to “create a massive movement of fake Jewish profiles on Facebook, Twitter etc.” The goal, according to the post, is to avoid censorship by social media companies and spread conspiracy theories about Jewish involvement in the slave trade, the global economy, mass media and the porn industry.
“You will have the benefit of labeling anyone an anti semite who disagrees with you,” the anonymous post suggested on Friday.
Since then, Twitter users who track Jewish content have documented fake accounts created in recent days.
Tablet writer Yair Rosenberg, who reported the 4chan post Monday on Twitter, shared screenshots of accounts impersonating Jews that he said were created after the 4chan post. The accounts use photos of real and purported Jews and stereotypically Jewish names.
“After the call went out on 4chan, a network of new Twitter accounts run by white supremacists pretending to be Jews popped up,” Rosenberg wrote. “Often, they masquerade as Orthodox Jews, Israelis and/or Jewish leftists. They all follow each other and promote anti-Semitic and anti-Israel content.”
1. Three days ago on 4chan, a popular post called for a "massive movement of fake Jewish profiles on Facebook, Twitter etc": pic.twitter.com/lYEmsIhdYg
— Yair Rosenberg (@Yair_Rosenberg) August 19, 2019
Some of the accounts claimed to be affiliated with Jewish Voice for Peace, a left-wing organization that supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. Others expressed support for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign and Jewish protests against ICE. Many promoted anti-Semitic ideas.
“#JewishRacism is alive, well, and very real. I am Jewish and see this same hatred towards European people from Jews every day,” read a Friday tweet by an account using the name “Simon Edelson.”
“Some of us Jews have been known to bend the truth at times for our own advantage,” read a tweet by an account called “Chaim Adelberg.”
Avital Chizhik Goldschmidt, an editor at the Forward, said one of the accounts used a photo of her husband, a rabbi, under a fake name and biography.
Impersonation campaigns have become a tool for online trolling and disinformation campaigns by governments and private individuals. On Monday, Twitter and Facebook took action against China for using hundreds of fake accounts to sow political discord during the Hong Kong protests.
Under Twitter policy, “accounts portraying another person in a confusing or deceptive manner may be permanently suspended.”
A Twitter spokesperson said the social media site was aware of and looking into the profiles.
“Based on our investigations, we have already permanently suspended several accounts. When we find accounts in violation of our policies, we take action according to our rules,” the representative told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an email.
The lightly moderated 4chan has developed a reputation for serving as a platform for malicious posts and online harassment schemes.