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Congressman who raised issue of antisemitism on Twitter says he was bombarded with antisemitic tweets

<i>Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag
Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call

By Alayna Treene and Donie O’Sullivan, CNN

A Jewish lawmaker who spoke about the problem of antisemitism on Twitter during a House Oversight hearing this week focused on the company was later bombarded with antisemitic messages on the platform, he explained in a letter to new owner Elon Musk on Thursday.

“What happened on Twitter directly after the hearing proves my exact point that antisemitism is real and Twitter has become a hate-filled playground for Nazis and anti-Semites,” Rep. Jared Moskowitz told CNN about the hateful comments he received.

At the hearing on Wednesday, which focused on Twitter’s handling of a New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s laptop in the leadup to the 2020 election, the Florida Democrat criticized his Republican counterparts for saying “God bless Elon Musk.” Moskowitz asked: “God bless the guys who is allowing Nazis and antisemitism to perpetuate on Twitter?” He also cited statistics from the Anti-Defamation League, stating there has been a more than 60% increase in antisemitic comments on Twitter since Musk took over the platform.

Under Musk’s leadership, Twitter has slashed its staff, relaxed some of its content moderation policies and reinstated a number of incendiary accounts that were previously banned. Those moves raised concerns that Musk’s Twitter could contribute to a rise in public displays of hate and antisemitism offline.

Musk, however, has repeatedly pushed back at claims that hate speech is rising on the platform. In December, for example, Musk claimed “hate speech impressions,” or the number of times a tweet containing hate speech has been viewed, “continue to decline” since his early days of owning the company.

Twitter, which eliminated much of its public relations team during last year’s layoffs, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Moskowitz and many other Democrats on the subpanel used their allotted time to grill the former Twitter executives testifying at the hearing about the company’s policies for policing hate on the platform. During his questioning, Moskowitz also rebuked former President Donald Trump for hosting white nationalist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes at Mar-a-Lago last year. He brought a large copy of a hateful post that Fuentes had tweeted at Moskowitz, telling the room, “No, not all Republicans are Nazis, but I gotta tell you, Nazis seem really comfortable with Donald Trump. So I have questions about that.”

In his letter to Musk, Moskowitz said he shared a clip showing his line of questioning on his official government Twitter account, after which “the reply section of my post was flooded with hateful, antisemitic comments and images.” He added: “At the time that I am writing this letter, I have received over 200 such comments on one tweet. This does not include other posts of mine that have since received antisemitic comments, including a video honoring the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting.”

Moskowitz pointed to a November 30 National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin warning from the Department of Homeland Security, which “issued domestic terror threats to multiple groups, including the Jewish community,” as evidence of his heightened concern. “DHS notes that threat actors have recently mobilized to violence, and there is an ‘enduring threat’ to the Jewish community,” he writes.

“With this direct and heightened threat environment in mind, how will you work with other stakeholders to combat the rise of antisemitism on Twitter?,” Moskowitz concludes in his letter to Musk.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, echoed Moskowitz’s concerns.

“Antisemitism has no place on any social media platform that doesn’t want to further the harassment and exclusion of marginalized communities,” Greenblatt told CNN Thursday. “While Twitter ostensibly has an anti-hate policy that includes antisemitism, it is unclear the degree to which it is being enforced.”

Greenblatt said the ADL continues to flag “batches of antisemitic content” to Twitter, but he said the company has only taken action on “a fraction of them” since Musk acquired the company. He also raised concerns about the staff cuts and the reinstated accounts that were banned previously.

“These findings, combined with Twitter gutting its trust and safety operations, suggest serious issues will continue to persist on the platform as it pertains to effective content moderation and the proliferation of antisemitism,” Greenblatt said.

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