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Is Twitter now helping antisemites? + Jews struggle in rural ‘matzo deserts’

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A new Twitter feature could hand antisemites a megaphone

 

On Saturday, Twitter began to strip accounts that had been verified by the platform of the blue check marks that previously marked them as sources of public interest information. Now, anyone can pay for the demarcation, raising concerns that users will find it harder to determine if the information they see on the platform is coming from a legitimate source or a bad actor. Jake Wasserman, the Forward’s engagement editor, spoke with Daniel Kelley at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center for Technology and Society about how the reformed program will impact antisemitism on the platform.

 

Credibility gained: Since the first tweet was posted in 2006, users knew that they could trust the veracity of information coming from accounts that displayed a blue check mark next to them. So if a user saw that @ADL tweeted that there was a threat against synagogues in the tri-state area, you knew it was a real threat.

 

Credibility lost: But ever since Elon Musk took over Twitter in October, the tech entrepreneur has been looking for ways to increase profitability, while the platform has been hemorrhaging money. One avenue he chose was to allow anyone to purchase one of those blue checks, no verification required. This pay-for-play program would allow bad actors to create imposter accounts that look legitimate — for example @OfficialADL or @TheRealADL — which could spread disinformation online.

 

Fake personas: Indeed, last fall, when Twitter rolled out its first iteration of the Twitter Blue program, users found that by purchasing an account, they could impersonate anyone. One impersonated AIPAC, tweeting, “We ♥️ apartheid.” To make matters worse, Musk said he would boost posts from accounts that pay for Twitter Blue.

 

Fake news: “I can imagine people impersonating major public figures engaging in egregious antisemitism as a means of smearing them,” Kelley said of the new feature.

 

Read the story ➤

ALSO IN THE FORWARD

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(Illustration by Mira Fox)

In rural America’s ‘matzo deserts,’ Jews struggle to set their Seder tables: Michal Rosenoer went to every grocery store in Chaffee County, Colorado, but the Jewish section was stripped bare. Turns out, local churches had bought all the matzo for their own Christian Seders — an issue that’s cropped up around the country. To combat the problem, Chabad outposts in states like Montana, North Dakota and Nebraska, have ordered in bulk to get matzo, while other rural Jews use Amazon. Read the story ➤

Opinion | I’m a junior in high school. Why do I need to apologize for Israel? “I want to be entitled to my own complicated feelings about Israel, without feeling as though I must justify them to my classmates and those around me,” writes Anya Geist of Worcester, Massachusetts. “I can feel happy about Israel, and I can feel sad, and those are my feelings.” Read her essay ➤

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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene at the Conservative Political Action Conference in March in Maryland. (Getty)

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WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

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Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s national security minister, walks past reporters on Sunday. (Getty)

🪖  Israel’s government approved the creation of a new national guard to be led by Itamar Ben-Gvir, the far-right national security minister, after cabinet members voted for a major budget cut across all departments in order to fund the 2,000-member force. Current and former Israeli police commissioners have called the guard divisive and dangerous. (JTA)

 

⚖️  An Australian jury found Malka Leifer, a former principal of an Orthodox school for girls and director of a camp, guilty of 18 charges, including rape. Leifer was accused of molesting three sisters between 2003 and 2007. (Australian Jewish News, AP, New York Times)

 

🇮🇱  Noa Tishby revealed that she was fired from her role as Israel’s special envoy for combating antisemitism. The move comes three weeks after the actress called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul plan “a coup.” (JNS)

 

💣  A matzo factory in Ukraine survived a fire after a Russian bomb struck a factory next door. Ukraine was one of the leading sources of the world’s matzo supply before the war began last year. (Times of Israel)

 

⛪  The Episcopal Diocese of Missouri asked its churches to ban Christian Seders. “Christians celebrating their own Haggadah outside of Jewish practice is deeply problematic,” wrote Missouri’s bishop, adding that “it’s problematic because it contributes to the objectification of our Jewish neighbors.” (Diocese of Missouri)

 

🎒  Yale University’s Judaic Studies program will be renamed Jewish Studies to better reflect “the broad experiences of Jews in many arenas,” in keeping with similar programs at other American universities. (Yale Daily News)

 

🤼  A Los Angeles synagogue hosted a “Mitzvah Mania” event, featuring Jewish professional wrestlers, to coincide with WWE’s “WrestleMania,” which took place at nearby SoFi Stadium. (JTA

 

Shiva call ➤  Seymour Stein, the record industry executive who signed Madonna, the Ramones and more, died at 80.

What else we’re reading ➤  Chicago’s Jewish community could swing Tuesday’s mayoral race … The dreams and limits of Oregon’s hotline against hate … Why you should take your 12-year-old to shiva.

ON THE CALENDAR

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Bobby Fischer photographed in New York in 1971. (Getty)

On this day in history (1975): Bobby Fischer refused to play against Anatoly Karpov, meaning that the Russian player won that year’s world champion title by default. Fischer, who was Jewish, was the reigning world champion at the time, but he forfeited his final match with Karpov because he disagreed with the terms set for the match by the International Chess Foundation. He had wanted those terms to include a clause that said, if the two were in a 9-9 tie, they would be declared co-champions and the prize money would be split evenly.

 

50 years ago today, Marty Cooper, the inventor of the cell phone, made his first call. It was to his competitors at AT&T. “The most surprising thing is that many people don’t use the cell phone for talking anymore,” the nonagenarian Cooper told us in a 2021 interview.

VIDEO OF THE DAY

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After Ruth Katcher’s mother died, she was cleaning out the cellar and found a dusty 8mm reel of film, labeled Passover Feast 1932. There was her great-grandfather, a Ukrainian immigrant who had resettled in Philadelphia leading the Seder at the head of a long table.

 

“To me,” writes Ruth, “this brief film underscores a vital center of Judaism, making the connection between past and present, of pulling up stakes and fleeing from oppression into the unknown.” 

 

Watch the video from 91 years ago ➤

 

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Thanks to Sarah Nachimson, Rukhl Schaechter and Talya Zax for contributing to today’s newsletter. You can reach the “Forwarding” team at editorial@forward.com.

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The post Is Twitter now helping antisemites? + Jews struggle in rural ‘matzo deserts’ appeared first on The Forward.

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