Extremists and purveyors of lies and conspiracies are capitalizing on Elon Musk’s new policies at Twitter – particularly the decision to grant “amnesty” to previously suspended accounts, which has allowed them to return to the platform. In recent weeks, a number of problematic groups and individuals have had their accounts reinstated on Twitter, have increased the use of their existing accounts or have joined the platform as new accounts.
As a follow up to a December 2022 report, ADL Center on Extremism analysts have compiled this list of notable users who have a history of spreading hate speech, misleading information and conspiratorial rhetoric – and have now resumed doing so on Twitter. ADL has reported several of these accounts for racist and antisemitic hate speech. As of this writing, Twitter has not responded to these inquiries.
While Twitter suspended the account of antisemitic conspiracy theorist and right-wing influencer Ali Alexander days after he organized the “Stop the Steal” rally that led to the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, he was welcomed back to Twitter on January 9, 2023. He is verified through “Twitter Blue,” which is available to anyone who pays a subscription fee. This differs from “legacy” verification, which according to Twitter indicates that the account is “authentic, notable and active.”
Alexander has used the platform to endorse antisemitic figures such as Ye and Nick Fuentes and continues to promote unfounded theories about election fraud. He has also made antisemitic references to “Jewish Supremacists.”
In just two weeks following his reinstatement, Alexander tweeted more than 2,500 times to 174K followers. On January 25, 2023, his account was reportedly suspended, but was reinstated again on February 1, 2023.
Since his December 3, 2022, reinstatement, Andrew Anglin – founder of the antisemitic neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer – has capitalized on his notoriety by tweeting conspiracy theories, racist tropes and support for figures like Ye and Nick Fuentes. In one of many misogynistic tweets, he refers to women as “sluts” who do “witchcraft” on men. At the time of this writing, Anglin has more than 15K followers, and his bio includes the hashtag “#YE24.”
On November 9, 2022, Twitter reinstated the account for white supremacist publisher Antelope Hill, which predominantly publishes historical works by Nazis and white nationalists. The account is verified through Twitter Blue, has more than 13K followers and is popular among a range of extremists, including the white supremacist and antisemitic group National Justice Party.
Jacob Creech (aka Clandestine), known for amplifying QAnon conspiracy theories and spreading disinformation about nonexistent “secret” U.S. funded biolabs in Ukraine, bragged to his followers on Telegram that one of his existing Twitter accounts – where he claims to have “posed as a super LGBTQ+ lib” – was never suspended from the platform. On January 12, 2023, he began posting on that account for the first time since May 2022 with a tweet directed at Elon Musk, asking: “When are we going to hear about the Biolabs in Ukraine?” The account uses a photo of a well-known LGBTQ+ social media influencer. ADL’S Center for Technology and Society flagged Creech’s troll account to Twitter multiple times for attempted impersonation but has not received a response.
On January 27, Creech’s actual Twitter account was reinstated following an almost year-long suspension. His old Twitter threads, many of which went viral and helped spread the 2022 disinformation narrative about biolabs, are still available.
On January 6, 2023, Twitter reinstated prominent Pizzagate and QAnon booster, Liz Crokin, whose current Twitter bio says “Pizzagate is real.” Her reinstatement ensures she has a broad audience for her unfounded, conspiratorial allegations about Hillary Clinton’s “crimes against children” and other false accusations based on the pervasive “groomer” narratives of the far right.
Tracy “Beanz” Diaz
Following her Twitter reinstatement in mid-December 2022, Tracy Diaz – a.k.a. Tracy Beanz, best known for helping popularize QAnon shortly after it first emerged on 4chan – has shared a range of conspiratorial claims on the platform. Many of her tweets, which reach her more than 468K followers, include misinformation about the COVID vaccine and unfounded accusations of voter fraud. One tweet suggests a nefarious conspiracy behind the size of Maricopa County’s paper ballots in the 2022 midterm election (this theory has been debunked). Diaz is verified through Twitter Blue.
Twitter reinstated the account of disgraced Lt. General Michael Flynn on January 6, 2023 – nearly two years after it was suspended following the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Flynn, former National Security Advisor under President Trump, has become a hero to the far right and to the QAnon movement. Since his reinstatement, Flynn has used Twitter to share conspiratorial content such as continued misinformation about the 2022 midterm elections and unfounded allegations of voter fraud. He has also posted pleas to Elon Musk asking for friends and colleagues to be reinstated. Flynn is verified through his subscription to Twitter Blue and has more than one million followers.
On January 24, 2023, Twitter reinstated white supremacist Nicholas J. Fuentes, who was initially banned from the social media platform in July 2021 for his “repeated violation” of terms of policy due to his hateful, bigoted rhetoric and imagery. Within hours of his reinstatement, Fuentes posted about Ye’s 2024 presidential campaign and about “DEFCON 3,” referencing a viral tweet from Ye in 2022 in which he insinuated that Jews are using their purported control to intimidate him while threatening to go “death con [sic] 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.” Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, was eventually banned from Twitter for his overt antisemitism in late 2022. Less than 24 hours after his reinstatement, Fuentes hosted a Twitter space during which he spread antisemitic tropes and praised Hitler. The next day, Fuentes’ account was suspended. It is not clear if the suspension is permanent.
Tim Gionet (Baked Alaska)
In early December 2022, Twitter reinstated the official account of white supremacist live streamer Tim Gionet (who goes by “Baked Alaska”). While his account was quickly (temporarily) suspended for hateful content including antisemitism, he was welcomed back shortly after, and many of his tweets targeting Jewish people remain untouched. On December 14, 2022, Gionet posted a Twitter poll asking his followers: “Should I say the n word?”
Gionet was found guilty and sentenced to jail for both his actions at the January 6 Capitol Riots and for a separate 2020 assault case. Gionet’s Twitter account, which is verified through Twitter Blue, currently has more than 130K followers.
Goyim Defense League (GDL)
Since December 2022, an account affiliated with the antisemitic Goyim Defense League (GDL) has used Twitter to share their antisemitic views, stunts and propaganda efforts, routinely pushing antisemitic tropes including “Every single aspect of Abortion is Jewish.” GDL also shares external links to their own antisemitic video streaming platform, where they monetize their hateful activities. From other platforms, such as Telegram, they send their followers to Twitter to troll individuals who have posted critically about GDL.
Twitter reinstated antisemitic author and conspiracy theorist David Icke in early January 2023 after he was suspended in 2020 for spreading COVID misinformation. His latest posts include links to articles on his website, espousing a range of false information about climate change, COVID, vaccines and the World Economic Forum. Icke has more than 377K followers and has maintained his legacy verification.
E. Michael Jones
On November 23, 2022, antisemitic writer E. Michael Jones tweeted for the first time in two years, thanking Elon Musk. Jones has rationalized mass murder of Jewish people and blamed them for undermining Catholicism and western civilization. On Twitter, he has posted hateful tropes about Judaism and abortion, and has tweeted several times advertising his appearances on white supremacist Nick Fuentes’ streaming service. On January 1, 2023, Jones tweeted: “I also pray that during 2023 God will break the yoke of Jewish tyranny which oppresses us.”
Twitter reinstated KanekoaTheGreat (or just “Kanekoa”) on December 16, 2022. Their account is verified through Twitter Blue and has more than 189K followers. Kanekoa’s tweets promote various false claims about COVID and big tech, and many focus on election fraud and election “interference” by various entities. One tweet claims the FBI censored the Hunter Biden “laptop story” and “rigged the 2020 election.” Countless fact checking organizations have dispelled the myth that the 2020 election was stolen or rigged.
On December 16, 2022, MyPillow CEO and election fraud conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell tweeted to Elon Musk from his reinstated Twitter account, “MELT DOWN THE ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES AND TURN THEM INTO PRISON BARS!” Since then, he has tweeted conspiratorial rhetoric related to the 2022 midterm elections – particularly those promoted by Kari Lake (R-AZ), who continues to refute the results of Arizona’s gubernatorial race (which she lost). Lindell has a legacy verified account and boasts more than 622K followers.
On December 8, 2022, Twitter reinstated right-wing political activist, former Congressional candidate in Florida and self-proclaimed “proud Islamophobe” Laura Loomer, where she is verified through Twitter Blue. That day, Loomer posted to Telegram: “This feels so surreal after being totally silenced for 4 years. Now I can return to exposing the truth to millions of people every day, just like I used to.” Loomer has a history of extremist ties, including a close relationship with white supremacist Nick Fuentes, and has tweeted allegations that the GOP rigged her (failed) primary election “because they didn’t want me in office exposing their corruption.”
Nation of Islam (NOI)
The Nation of Islam (NOI), a Black nationalist organization led by Louis Farrakhan that frequently espouses antisemitic and other bigoted hate speech and conspiracy theories, returned to Twitter in December of 2022. Since being reinstated, the group has retweeted content from Farrakhan’s account, which has more than 347K followers. The NOI has also posted recruitment content linking to their website, illustrating how extremists leverage the large reach of Twitter to grow their memberships.
Prominent NOI member and social media influencer Rizza Islam, known for spreading antisemitic and anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric as well as anti-vaccine misinformation, announced on January 26, 2023, that his original Twitter account had been reinstated. He’d already created backup Twitter accounts in the meantime, including one with more than 46K followers.
On November 20, 2022, Twitter reinstated the account of self-proclaimed “news” outlet Project Veritas, whose cleverly and misleadingly edited “exposé” videos have helped spread a range of false narratives. Conspiracy theorists applauded the return, and the account continues to actively share misinformation about COVID, LGBTQ+ individuals and vaccines.
Twitter reinstated Ron Watkins, former Arizona congressional candidate and administrator of the anonymous message board 8kun, on January 10, 2023. Watkins, who is verified through Twitter Blue and was previously suspended after the attack on the U.S Capitol, has long been suspected of being the anonymous figure “Q” in QAnon, which he denies. Since his reinstatement, Watkins has tweeted conspiratorial claims about the World Economic Forum, China and the Department of Justice, among others. On January 21, Watkins tweeted about President Biden, referring to him as “the fake president.”
STATEMENTS FROM TWITTER
On January 25, 2023, Twitter’s current head of trust and safety Ella Irwin tweeted that their team “will be posting an update on general amnesty reinstatements this week.” On January 29, she shared a thread explaining some of their decisions to suspend or restrict certain users, although it does not specifically reference amnesty reinstatements. In one tweet, Irwin states that Twitter does not "suspend users for posting reported content unless it is clear the user knew the content was illegal.”
The ADL Center for Technology and Society has reported the Creech “troll” account to Twitter, as noted above, as well as tweets from Ali Alexander, E. Michael Jones and GDL for racist and antisemitic hate speech.