By Molly Zatman
Jewish Twitter, or “Jwitter,” is one of the largest active hubs of contemporary Jewish thought on any social media platform. It’s understandable how Jwitter has gotten so big; the community is an opportunity to befriend Jews around the world and a space to share opinions with a never-ending supply of Yiddishist jokes.
However, not all the Jewish students at this university find the appeal of Jwitter worth all the drama and toxicity the community can bring. First-year journalism major Joel Lev-Tov says, “Jewish Twitter seems pretty toxic and polarized over the Israel question.” When asked if he would engage with Jwitter in the future, Lev-Tov asserted, “It’s way too toxic, it seems like all the nuance is lost in the conversation.”
Specifically, Lev-Tov mentioned that Jwitter is “too preoccupied with fighting about Israel” to present any “Jewish community of value.”
An anonymous psychology major at this university, who is an active Jwitter member, shared her mixed feelings about the space:
“I feel like Jwitter gives me a sense of community; I find left-wing Jews who share my values and I don’t meet those types of people at College Park. There are parts of Jewish Twitter which are toxic. When people see someone they don’t like or agree with, they’ll argue, ‘well, you’re not really Jewish.’ And it happens a lot there. I try to stay away from them, I block them.”
I personally have never been an active member of any community on Twitter, although I do have an account where I occasionally look at ongoing conversations. Everytime I stumble across Jwitter, there seems to be some sort of ongoing civil war.
Hen Mazzig, an Israeli writer and well-known activist in Jewish circles, wrote that Jwitter has become known for doxxing. In these doxxings, multiple people – primarily young women of color – have had their locations leaked or became victims of merciless harassment and bullying online. User @ClaireRedacted shared her experience being doxxed in a detailed Twitter thread and user @annarajagopal_ opened up about a similar instance in an Instagram post.
Jwitter has also been a notorious hotspot for neo-Nazi trolls, according to Slate Magazine. Not only do these trolls harness their faux-“Jewish” status to push alt-right propaganda, but they create a sense of distrust among Jwitter. Arguments over the validity of someone’s Jewishness and accusations of pretending to be Jewish seem to constantly swirl around the community.
The anonymous psychology major remarked, “I wouldn’t advise other students to join Jwitter. I go to Twitter as a place that’s separate from my real life.”
Her point holds true: the vicious, bickering of Jwitter is disconnected from real life. On a platform where conversation is limited to short blurb-like statements, it’s easy to lose important context and for discussions to quickly escalate. Most of the perpetual arguments that dominate Jwitter seem to be a result of bad faith or simple misinterpretation.
Nonetheless, for those seeking a diverse Jewish community filled with politically active figures, Jwitter might still hold an appeal. “I get why people use it. It seems like a place to find a community,” first-year biology student Brianna Loshin commented, “I just wouldn’t go on it myself. I feel like I have enough of a Jewish community at UMD.”