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Reprinted from Honest Reporting.
On the morning of the brutal October 7 Hamas attack on communities in Israel, social media influencer Jackson Hinkle had 417,000 followers on his X (formerly Twitter) account.
Describing himself as an “American Conservative Marxist-Leninist” in perhaps the clearest indicator of his muddled and inconsistent political views, Hinkle initially rose to prominence online as a peddler of pro-Russia disinformation.
Just over two months later, the number of people following Hinkle’s conspiratorial and, more often than not, incoherent ramblings on X has mushroomed to 2.3 million.
It’s a staggering jump that is not only earning Hinkle a tidy revenue in advertising as a content creator on the Elon Musk-owned platform, but is largely thanks to Hamas and supporters of the terrorist organization.
Perhaps sensing a money-making opportunity in the days that followed the horrifying attack, Hinkle went into conspiracy overdrive and began pumping out anti-Israel and antisemitic propaganda on an almost industrial scale.
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.
Videos have been released showing him leaving the prison with 2 healthy arms.
But the truth is not on their side so they hide behind the lies and hope you believe them. Don’t be their useful idiot. https://t.co/2EZNOTkGm7
— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) November 29, 2023
But Hinkle’s shallow concern for the Palestinians has not prevented his meteoric social media rise, which has seen him push ever more dangerous conspiracies and lies as the Israel-Hamas war continues.
While there are almost too many flagrant instances of him sharing disinformation about Israel’s battle against Hamas to count, Hinkle appears to “specialize” in sharing outright fake pieces of information, including doctored and computer-generated imagery.
For example, he recently posted an image of suspected Hamas terrorists who had been rounded up and arrested by Israel alongside an image of ISIS terrorists about to execute several jumpsuit-clad hostages, with the obvious inference that Israel is summarily executing suspected terrorists.
On another occasion, Hinkle shared what he claimed was footage of Israel bombing Gaza’s Al-Sadaqa Hospital, which BBC fact-checker Olga Robinson later showed was CCTV from a hospital in Syria and was at least seven years old.
This is not a hospital in Gaza being bombed.
This is old footage from Syria and completely unrelated to the current conflict. pic.twitter.com/GCCtyyy3sz
— Olga Robinson (@O_Rob1nson) November 1, 2023
Hinkle also seems to care very little about being exposed as a liar, having posted content that can be disproved with a mere click.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz took him to task after an October 28 post by Hinkle “attempted a wholesale appropriation of Haaretz’s name and coverage to support a range of baseless conspiracy theories.”
“He opened with a breathless claim: ‘Haaretz investigation EXPOSES all the ISRAELI LIES from October 7th (just like I predicated).’,” Haaretz noted. “There was just one problem: there is no such Haaretz investigation. Indeed, Hinkle didn’t even try to corroborate his hyperbolic headline with any hyperlinks to Haaretz at all.”
— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) October 28, 2023
Hinkle has also been outspoken in his support for Hamas, which he has refused to admit is a terrorist organization, and for the Assad regime in Syria.
During October, Hinkle posted his support for Bashar al-Assad on numerous occasions, including describing the Syrian dictator as a “hero” and denying the fact chemical weapons were used by the Syrian army on civilians.
In another bizarre post that encouraged his supporters to donate for him to “expose Zionist lies,” Hinkle uploaded a photoshopped image of himself with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and claimed they both “stand with Palestine.”
The so-called “community notes” feature on X, which allows readers to add context to posts, has prevented Hinkle’s most outrageous examples of fake news from going unchallenged.
They include his calling on his millions of followers to boycott the newest Grand Theft Auto videogame on the grounds it is “Haram Zionist propaganda” — a conclusion Hinkle seemingly arrived at after coloring the logo of the company behind GTA, Rockstar Games, blue so he could suggest that it bears a resemblance to the Star of David on the Israeli flag.
While Hinkle is far from alone in profiting off the Israel-Hamas war as builds a career for himself as an influencer, the fact that he is profiting off pumping out fake news is simply staggering.
Billionaire Elon Musk has promised to help tackle the proliferation of fake news and propaganda on X by demonetizing content creators who are responsible.
One such tool, he announced in October, would be preventing any posts that are fact-checked with the “community notes” feature from earning revenue — something that has apparently already prompted Hinkle to delete numerous posts.
However, such measures do not go nearly far enough.
A study released last month by the Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) showed that X remains a digital sink of hate speech, with the study examining posts made following the start of the Israel-Hamas war.
Its findings indicated that 96 percent of all posts that were reported for hate speech remained on the website for a week after being flagged.
And it is this abject failure of supine social media magnates like Elon Musk that have allowed Hinkle and his ilk to build careers peddling falsehoods.
In eight weeks of war that has seen horrifying bloodshed and led to countless lost lives, the Jackson Hinkles of the world are profiting without any concern for the real-world implications of their lies.
This has to stop now.
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Photo credit: Matt Winkelmeyer via Getty Images
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