X influencers gain followers by capitalizing on antisemitic and anti-West sentiment post-Oct. 7

Some accounts saw a growth of followers by more than 500% after Hamas' Oct. 7 assault.

Published: June 12, 2024 11:00pm

Online influencers on X have gained thousands if not millions of followers capitalizing on antisemitic and anti-Western sentiment on the social media platform following the Oct. 7, 2023, attack on Israel, according to data reviewed by Just the News

For example, influencer Jackson Hinkle, who regularly makes posts harshly critical of Israel and extremely supportive of Russia and U.S.-designated terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, currently has 2.6 million followers on X.

Hinkle's following has grown more than 520% since Oct. 7, 2023, having gained more than 2.18 million followers over eight months, archived webpages show. This is a dramatic increase in followers when compared to the eight months leading up to Hamas' Oct. 7 attack on Israel. On Feb. 10, 2023, Hinkle had 120,400 followers, which means that he gained about 300,000 followers in the eight months leading up to Oct. 7.

While Hinkle may operate one of the largest anti-Israel accounts on X, he is far from the only person to have gained significant numbers of followers in the eight months since Oct. 7.

Just the News analyzed 18 X accounts known for making antisemitic and anti-Western posts and compared how much they grew from around the time of the Oct. 7 attack through June 9, with their growth rate during the approximately eight months before the Oct. 7 attack. Due to limitations with website archives, some of the dates are slightly off, but the data still shows that nearly 80% of the accounts studied saw significantly higher rates of growth in the eight months after Oct. 7 than in the eight months prior to the attack.

Name Approx. followers around Oct. 7, 2023 Followers June 2024 % Change from Oct. to June Approx. followers 8 months before Oct. 7, 2023

% Change approx. 8 months before Oct. 7 to attack

Jackson Hinkle Oct 7, 2023: 417.6k 2.6 million 523% Feb. 10, 2023: 120.4K 246%
Tiberius Oct. 31, 2023: 28.1K 145.1K 416% July 16, 2022: 20.4K 37%
Sulaiman Ahmed Oct. 9, 2023: 114K 553.7K 385% Feb. 15, 2023: 108K 5%
Sam Parker Oct. 1, 2023: 30K 135.8K 353% Feb. 8, 2023: 18.6K 61%
Muhammad Shehada Oct. 10, 2023: 29.8K 116.8K 292% Feb. 3, 2023: 10.9K 173%
Lucas Gage Oct. 5, 2023: 72.2K 272.7K 278% May 21, 2023: 38.4K 88%
Ryan Dawson Oct. 1, 2023: 65.6K 215.7K 229% Feb. 9, 2023: 34.6K 89%
Palestine Online Oct. 11, 2023: 178.3K 354.4K 99% Feb 2, 2023: 101.7K 75%
Keith Woods Oct. 12, 2023: 189.7K 93% Apr. 30, 2023: 28.5K 244%
Censored Men Oct. 17, 2023: 579.2K 1 million 73% Feb. 7, 2023: 34.7K 1569%
Jake Shields Oct. 10, 2023: 407.6K 694.5K 70% Feb. 7, 2023: 307.5K 32%
Anastasia Maria Loupis Oct. 1, 2023: 711.2K 1.2 million 69% Feb. 9, 2023: 157.3K 352%
Richard Medhurst Oct. 18, 2023: 282K 420.7K 49% Feb. 19, 2023: 229.3K 22%
Rafael Shimunov Oct. 3, 2023: 62K 92.4K 49% Feb. 8, 2023: 61.9K 0.16%
Stew Peters Sept. 10, 2023: 415.6K 603.3K 45% Feb. 7, 2023: 167.3K 148%
Caitlin Johnstone Oct. 11, 2023: 267.8K 381.7K 43% Feb. 8, 2023: 223.3K 19%
Max Blumenthal Oct. 7, 2023: 444.3K 630.3K 42% Feb. 2, 2023: 386.3K 15%
Aaron Mate Oct. 12, 2023: 334.2K 415.3K 24% Feb. 10, 2023: 299.2K 11%

Some experts and organizations that monitor these sorts of things, such as the Anti-Defamation League, noted an increase in antisemitism before the Oct. 7 attacks, only to see it rise exponentially after the assault.

Common narratives promoted by the accounts include comparing the United States and Israel to Nazi Germany and accusing both nations of being complicit in a "genocide." Many of the accounts also treat the word "Zionist," which refers to a person who believes that the Jews have a right to a homeland, as an insult. Some of the accounts also praise Hamas, and promote decades-old antisemitic conspiracy theories.

Many of the antisemitic and anti-Western accounts are verified, and have enabled subscriptions to get paid for what they post online.

Compounding the problem is that even "negative" comments on the posts count as engagement, which promotes their content, according to a report from the center.

After Oct. 7, X "seemingly rewarded these accounts for producing controversial, sensational, and engaging content with turbocharged follower growth, visibility, and, where revenue sharing is permitted, therefore, increased revenues," Imran Ahmed, CEO of the left-leaning Center for Countering Digital Hate said.

Further complicating the issue is how social media allows hate to fester because the platforms can be used to recruit followers, unlike traditional media, Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman wrote in an article this year for Time magazine.

While some of the X influencers posted regularly against Israel and Jews before Oct. 7, others were largely silent on the matter until the attack.

HonestReporting, a nonprofit that studies media bias against Israel, analyzed Hinkle's rise to fame, stating: "His sudden pro-Palestinian pivot bears all the hallmarks of rank opportunism, particularly the zeal with which Hinkle has latched himself onto a cause that appears to have little to no personal effect and that before October 7, you could count the number of times on one hand that Hinkle had posted about Israel or the Palestinians."

Meanwhile, there has been an increase in antisemitic hate crimes since Oct. 7, according to data from various law enforcement agencies and groups.

This is far from the first time that users have seen their follower count increase after Oct. 7. Several online influencers saw their follower count explode after they converted to Islam following the Oct. 7 attacks, according to an investigation by Just the News last year.

Follow Madeleine Hubbard on X or Instagram.

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