Verified anti-LGBTQ+ hate speech accounts on Twitter are spreading misinformation about the deadly conflict in Gaza, possibly to increase their followers and monetized engagement, Rolling Stone has reported.
These Twitter accounts include the self-described “alternative media” source, @CensoredMen; U.K. graduate student Sulaiman Ahmed, @ShaykhSulaiman; former competitive fighter Jake Shields, @jakeshieldsajj; banned former YouTuber Ryan Dawson, @RyLiberty; and Danish anti-vaxxer Dr. Anastasia Maria Loupis, @DrLoupis, the aforementioned publication said.
According to a new report, accounts like Libs of TikTok will generate $6.4 million in ad revenue for the platform.
@CensoredMen — which was accused by Rolling Stone of inflating the number of Palestinians killed in an Israeli airstrike on a north Gaza refugee camp — began in December 2022 as an account dedicated to defending anti-LGBTQ+ misogynist Andrew Tate. The account’s past posts opposed drag queens, transgender student-athletes, and the so-called “LGBTQ agenda.”
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Ahmed, who was also accused of inflating the casualty count, has previously made transphobic posts and ones accusing LGBTQ+ allied teachers of “grooming” schoolchildren. Since the Israel-Hamas war began in early October, Ahmed’s Twitter follower count went from 88,000 followers to 206,000.
Shields, who has made numerous posts against LGBTQ+ “grooming” and “trans ideology,” has recently been retweeting videos from antisemitic white supremacist Nick Fuentes that accuse the Israeli government of genocide.
Dawson has recently posted a video baselessly accusing the Israel Defense Forces of orchestrating an October 7 attack on concert goers in order to begin warring with Palestine. In the past, Dawson has regularly made posts against trans people, ones accusing pro-LGBTQ+ Israelis of being “trans-semite,” and ones praising Palestinians for not waving the “AIDS flag.” He is also a fan of far-right, anti-LGBTQ+ conspiracy theorist Stew Peters.
Loupis, who has gained about 240,000 followers in the past month, made posts last month stating that Jewish pharmaceutical executives who helped develop the COVID-19 vaccine are also supporting the current military conflict in Gaza. She has previously made posts against the so-called “trans agenda.”
These accounts have successfully co-opted the Palestinian cause to request money, dog-whistle to extremists, or frame their antisemitism as “anti-Zionist” criticism of Israel, Rolling Stone writer Miles Klee wrote. Some of the aforementioned Twitter users are also selling subscription services and getting paid by Twitter by the number of engagements their posts get from other paying Twitter users.
While many people are now depending on Twitter for breaking information about the ongoing conflict, they may be unwittingly be mistaking these right-wing anti-LGBTQ+ figures for actual news sources.
That this is happening on Twitter isn’t altogether surprising. The site’s owner Elon Musk has threatened to sue watchdog organizations that point out the proliferation of hate speech on the platform since his takeover.