Rapper Kanye West is on yet another a timeout from Twitter after testing the limits of owner Elon Musk’s free speech policy. Twitter issued West, who has legally changed his name to Ye, a 12-hour suspension late Thursday after Ye tweeted a picture of swastika inside a Star of David with the caption “YE24 LOVE EVERYONE #LOVESPEECH”.
West turned to the platform Truth Social to post a picture of a notification informing him of the suspension due to his violation of Twitter’s rules. Musk confirmed on Twitter that West’s suspension was due to “incitement of violence.” It had nothing to do, he added, with the unflattering photos Ye had tweeted of Musk wearing swimwear on a yacht. “Frankly, I found those pics to be helpful motivation to lose weight,” Musk said.
Musk’s takeover of Twitter has been fraught with debates about the limits of free speech, and the willingness of the company’s new owner to take the dangers of hate speech seriously. Many of Twitter’s users are unclear about where Musk will the draw the line — although this suspension of Ye gives us some indication. Whether it will set a precedent for future content moderation is unclear, as there remains a lack of transparency over Twitter’s moderation policies under Musk. This has been exacerbated by Musk firing or driving out many of the key people who were responsible for trust and safety on Twitter.
Musk has already restored the accounts of notable figures who were suspended by the platform for hate speech, including Jordan Peterson, Andrew Tate, Project Veritas and former President Donald Trump. Ye had his own account restored after Musk’s takeover on Oct. 27, but Twitter suspended him again after he tweeted “going death con 3 On JEWISH PEOPLE.”
The tweet that sparked Ye’s suspension on Thursday is the latest in a spate of displays of antisemitic sentiment from the rapper, who has expressed his intent to run for the US presidency in 2024. His antisemitism plays into conspiracy theorist tropes about Jewish people that have no basis in truth, but serve to reinforce far-right extremist agendas while making the Jewish community a target for hate and violence.
Ye’s antisemitism is not only getting him in trouble with Twitter. Big companies including Adidas and Gap have ended partnerships with the rapper over his behavior. Still, he keeps doubling down on antisemitic rhetoric — something this latest Twitter suspension seems unlikely to change.