New York Times editor quits Twitter over anti-Semitic tweets
NEW YORK, N.Y. — Inundated with anti-Semitic tweets and frustrated by Twitter’s initial response, New York Times editor Jon Weisman is packing up and leaving the social media platform.
Weisman said Wednesday — in a tweet — that he will be “moving to Facebook where at least people need to use their real names and can’t hide behind fakery to spread their hate.”
The deputy editor of the Times’ Washington bureau and a published novelist, Weisman has more than 34,000 followers and a coveted blue check mark indicating his account is verified.
But his prominence also made Weisman, who is Jewish, a frequent target of anti-Semitic trolls. Fed up, Weisman said one of the Times’ social media gurus forwarded a compendium of some of those tweets to Twitter on Monday.
In one tweet, Weisman was referred to as a “kike.” Another threatened to have him put “in the oven.”
Weisman said that Twitter responded by saying the tweets didn’t violate the company’s rules and none of the users would be suspended.
By late Wednesday morning, however, Twitter appeared to change course. The two accounts that Weisman linked to earlier in the day have since been suspended.
Twitter spokesman Jim Prosser declined to comment on the matter, telling CNNMoney that the company doesn’t “comment on individual accounts for privacy and security reasons.”
Weisman said that, although his complaints have clearly been heard, it is still a mystery why some users get booted and others do not.
“I started getting notifications from Twitter that accounts are being suspended as soon as I said I was quitting Twitter, so yes, somebody is listening,” Weisman told CNNMoney in an email. “Not all the accounts that I reported, however, are being blocked. I really don’t understand what is deemed acceptable and what is over the line.”
Weisman wrote last month about the abuse he receives on Twitter. Other Jewish journalists have gotten a similar treatment. The reporter Julia Ioffe was pummeled with obscene tweets this spring after she wrote a profile for GQ magazine about Melania Trump, the wife of Donald Trump.
Many of the anti-Semitic tweets targeting Weisman and Ioffe have bracketed their last names with parentheses, a technique employed by neo-Nazis and white nationalists to identify Jewish individuals.
The technique, known as an “echo,” also allows those tweets to go undetected because users are unable to search Twitter for parentheses.
Weisman and other people of Jewish faith have responded to that trend by bracketing their Twitter handles as a show of solidarity.
But it apparently wasn’t just the anti-Semitic taunts that drove Weisman from Twitter. In a separate tweet on Wednesday, Weisman called out certain supporters of Bernie Sanders who harassed female journalists this week.
Weisman told CNNMoney that he doesn’t think “trolling per se should be banned,” but he does support more transparency.
“I think Twitter should require people to user their real names, like Facebook does,” he said. “Of course people will lie, just as they do on Facebook. But just making people provide a real name and a verifiable email address would help. Twitter is absurd, and the Twitter handles of anti-Semitic, racist trolls aren’t even trying to sound legit.”
Weisman isn’t sure if he will abandon Twitter for good. The company’s actions on Wednesday suggest they don’t want to lose him.
“They seem to be trying to get me back already,” Weisman said.