NJ Lottery Ditches Twitter After Ads Appear on Antisemitic Russian Paramilitary Feed

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NJ Lottery Ditches Twitter After Ads Appear on Antisemitic Russian Paramilitary Feed

The New Jersey Lottery has suspended all Twitter advertising. That’s after an ad publicizing the Powerball jackpot appeared in a feed supporting a Far-Right Russian paramilitary organization.

Twitter
Twitter
Elon Musk, Twitter’s new owner, says he is a “free speech absolutist,” and advocates a hands-off approach on content moderation. (Image: Reuters)

The feed included antisemitic memes and cartoons that stereotyped and dehumanized Jewish people, NBC New York reported.

Forty consecutive rollovers created a world-record $2.04 billion jackpot. And the buildup to Tuesday’s unprecedented draw generated massive interest among the media and general public, as state lottery operators ramped up their promotional activities.

But the placement of lottery ads as “promoted tweets” in a feed that promoted racism and hate speech will raise questions about Twitter’s ability to moderate content under new owner, Elon Musk.

Honk for Free Speech

Musk has said he is a “free speech absolutist” and is expected to employ a hands-off approach to offensive content and extremist viewpoints on the platform. Last week, he announced layoffs of nearly half of Twitter’s workforce.

Nevertheless, the social media giant suspended the extremist Russian account, @x_WagnerLover_x, shortly after being contacted by NBC.

The broadcaster said it received a tipoff about the inappropriate placement from internet watchdog the Coalition for a Safer Web. NBC informed the New Jersey Lottery, which said it was already aware and had taken steps to address the situation.

The Lottery condemns antisemitism, racial, ethnic and religious hate of any kind,” Missy Gillespie, a spokeswoman for the Lottery, said in a statement to the broadcaster. “This morning, prior to receiving your email, the Lottery had paused all paid Twitter advertising because of concern regarding content moderation changes.”

Some of the cartoons and memes in the feed depicted Jewish people with “exaggerated, stereotyped facial features,” according to NBC. One showed Jewish people as rats and roaches running across Europe. In another, a Jewish stereotype was shown “orchestrating warfare from behind a computer screen.”

Reevaluating Twitter

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) also said it had instructed Twitter to halt advertising while it investigated how the offensive ad placement had occurred.

“Given recently announced content moderation changes at Twitter, we, like many organizations are evaluating our options for engaging with the platform going forward,” it said in a statement.

Mystery Winner

The world-record jackpot was won by a ticket-holder in California, who has yet to come forward. It was sold at Joe’s Service Center in Altadena, northeast of Los Angeles.

The draw had been scheduled to take place on Monday, but was delayed by nearly ten hours over an issue processing sales.

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