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Sue Lani Madsen: Twitter and terrorism

If you are one of the 75% of Americans who doesn’t use X, the social media platform that will forever be known as Twitter to everyone except Elon Musk, then you may be unaware of the ongoing battle to capture the narrative on the war in Israel.

All social media shapes how stories are told, but Twitter has an outsized influence among journalists. While only 13% of Americans look to Twitter as a news source, almost 70% of U.S. journalists use Twitter for work-related tasks, according to Pew Research.

Those with an incentive to manipulate the news can easily use Twitter’s audience demographics not just to place advertising but to spin news stories with hashtag campaigns to press a particular point of view or conclusion. As this is written, #IsraelisaGenocidalState is trending.

There is no room for moral equivocation on the brutal terrorist attack committed on Oct. 7. Hamas leaders planned and carried out an invasion of Israel with the express goal of killing unarmed residents to create maximum terror. #HamasWarCrimes

Hamas is the acronym in Arabic for Islamic Resistance Movement. It’s a political party first elected into parliament in 2006 and took control of Gaza in 2007. In late October, the left-leaning Tel Aviv-based newspaper Haaretz reported on an interview with a senior Hamas official in Lebanon saying Oct. 7 was just a beginning and “vowing to launch a second, a third, a fourth attack until the country is annihilated.”

Israel did not start this war. The massacre of over 1,400 Israelis on Oct. 7 is described by Israeli officials as the deadliest single attack on the Jews since the Holocaust. Nov. 9 marked the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the massive escalation of antisemitism in Nazi Germany. In the interest of self-preservation, Israel must track down the terrorists in Hamas Gaza to prevent another campaign of genocide against the Jews. #HamasNazis

For the past month, progressive apologists on Twitter have been busy downplaying reports of atrocities. Babies decapitated? Found baked in an oven? Dismissed as Zionist propaganda by one tweeter saying, “This is becoming a joke,” in a post that was “liked” over 3,100 times and shared 812 times. Each share undoubtedly shared again, as the news spin went viral.

On Oct. 28, a tweet circulated saying an investigation by Haaretz had concluded there were no beheaded babies.

And the truth? There’s no evidence Haaretz conducted any investigation. According to USA Today Politics, “A group of 200 forensic pathologists, anthropologists, radiologists and other experts from Israel, the U.S, Switzerland, New Zealand and elsewhere … reported on Oct. 16 that victims of the Hamas attack were executed, bound and burned alive, and others were found decapitated – many of whom were babies.”

According to USA Today Politics, the tweet with the lie was shared over 50,000 times in three days.

As of Wednesday, the tweet with the Oct. 31 USA Today Politics fact check had three likes and one share.

When Mark Twain said, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes,” he’d never imagined the speed and reach of Twitter.

Prior to Musk’s purchase of the platform in 2022, there were squads of gatekeepers supposedly suppressing lies, but also suppressing opinions. Massive layoffs and a reorientation of the platform by Musk to free speech changed that. But while there is now a system of community notes that may flag inaccurate information or offer more context, it is a reader beware zone.

It’s also a shield-up zone for the legions of keyboard warriors who boldly say things from their emotional basements that they’d never say in public. Like this sophisticated comeback from an anonymous Spokane account called the Jewish Space Laser Technician, one of those Palestine apologists who took exception to my point of view:

“I don’t have defective eyes requiring the use of glasses. 20/05 vision. Good genetics. One of god’s chosen. Not a squinting mongrel.”

Too many twits on Twitter act like children on a badly supervised playground. Sorting out the facts from the propaganda is an excruciating exercise for optimists in digging through a roomful of manure to find a pony. For journalists, it’s an occupational hazard to hang out there.

Today it was worth it to give that fact check on #HamasWarCrimes one more share in the name of helping the truth lace up its shoes.

Contact Sue Lani Madsen at

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