Image
Butterfly_Attack-4chan.jpg

“Operation My Fellow Jews:” 4chan’s Campaign to Spread Antisemitism on Twitter

By
Kaylee Fagan
Media Manipulation Tactics Used
Date Range
Aug. 2019 - Sept. 2019
Region
USA
Network Terrain
Attribution
Strategy
Vulnerabilities
Campaign Adaptation

Overview

On Aug. 16, 2019, an anonymous user posted to 4chan’s Politically Incorrect board calling upon fellow 4chan users to impersonate Jewish people online by creating inauthentic social media accounts. In the days that followed, campaign participants created dozens of fake Twitter accounts, many of them posing as rabbis and using stereotypically Jewish names. Twitter quickly suspended the accounts, although not before their owners could post inflammatory, often-antisemitic, and anti-Israel sentiments.

Background: 

Jewish Americans have long been subject to antisemitism and other forms of prejudice, in society and online.1 Anonymous message boards, and 4chan’s “Politically Incorrect” board (/pol/) in particular, have been identified by researchers and journalists as a hotbed for extremist rhetoric.2

Additionally, /pol/ users (colloquially known as “anons”) have a well-documented history of organizing media manipulation campaigns as a means of “trolling” journalists, politicians, social justice activists, and others.3 These campaigns attract varying levels of enthusiasm among anons, with some failing to mobilize participants at all. 

The tactic of impersonating social identity groups across social media for political ends is called a “butterfly attack.”4 In June 2018, a 4chan user attempted to organize a similar butterfly attack targeting Jewish Americans, but that effort failed to mobilize participants.5

In Aug. 2019, the same antisemitic mission was reintroduced via a new thread on /pol/, and this time anons decided—for whatever reason—to launch the campaign in earnest.

  • 1Christopher Wolf, “The Internet Is Making Anti-Semitism Socially Acceptable,” Anti-Defamation League, February 16, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/48N4-CGEE.
  • 2Marc Tuters and Sal Hagen, “(((They))) Rule: Memetic Antagonism and Nebulous Othering on 4chan,” New Media & Society 22, no. 12 (December 1, 2020): 2218–37, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/CY3S-W3AG; Stephane J. Baele, Lewys Brace, and Travis G. Coan, “Variations on a Theme? Comparing 4chan, 8kun, and Other Chans’ Far-Right ‘/Pol’ Boards,” Perspectives on Terrorism 15, no. 1 (2021): 65–80, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/8CZU-8LHT.
  • 3Joanne McNeil, “From Anon to Alt-Right: The Dangerous Tricksters of 4chan,” Literary Hub (blog), March 2, 2020, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/SV2H-RKCN; Joan Donovan and Brian Friedberg, “Source Hacking: Media Manipulation In Practice,” Data & Society (Data & Society Research Institute, September 4, 2019), archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/X27W-5SNA.
  • 4Rachelle Hampton, “4chan Trolls Impersonated Jewish Twitter Users. Again.,” Slate, August 21, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/SKT7-EJV4.
  • 5Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #175908320,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, June 20, 2018, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/29TV-72SH; Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #176850052,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, June 28, 2018, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/YGE9-KBBP.

STAGE 1: Manipulation Campaign Planning and Origins

On Aug. 16, 2019, an anonymous 4chan user started a new thread on /pol/, entitled “Operation My Fellow Jews,” calling upon anons to impersonate Jewish people online by creating inauthentic social media accounts.1

"We must create a massive movement of fake Jewish profiles on Facebook, Twitter etc.,” the user instructed. “Since Jews shapeshift into whites anytime they want, we can do the same to them.” The campaign was intended to “subvert Jews,” exploit the wedge issue of US-Israeli relations, and sow “division” within the Jewish American community.2

The campaign name “Operation My Fellow Jews” was a play on the antisemitic meme, “My fellow white people.” First popularized on 4chan in 2013,3 the phrase implies that Jewish people “masquerade as” or “pretend” to be white in situations where it could be politically advantageous.4 Both “My fellow Jews” and “My fellow white people” were likely inspired—at least in part—by a joke from the popular NBC sitcom “30 Rock,” in which a 55-year-old Steve Buscemi, playing the role of an undercover police officer posing as a high schooler, greets a group of students with the phrase, “How do you do, fellow kids?”5 The joke, which first aired in 2012, is a popular meme in its own right, and is often circulated as a gif or reaction image on Tumblr, Reddit, and other social media platforms.6

Comments posted to the original 4chan campaign-planning thread also suggest that participants hoped to blend in with the Jewish community on Twitter, such that journalists and onlookers online wouldn't be able to distinguish actual Jewish people from the 4chan imposters.7 This tactic obscures the origins and key players of a trolling campaign, potentially leading a layperson to errantly direct anger or backlash over the campaign’s offensive content at an innocent–and in this case, likely Jewish–bystander.

For example, one anon wrote, “Soon all Jews who support palestine will end up getting accused of being /pol/. The will drive the wedge further between the left and the Jews.”8  

A screenshot accompanying the original campaign-planning thread depicts a tweet posted by a fraudulent Twitter user, “Rabbi Bergstein,” posted four days prior to the launch of the campaign, on Aug. 12, 2019. This screenshot suggests that the original poster of the 4chan thread was leading by example, effectively demonstrating to other anons how to pose as Jewish online.9

  • 1Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #223354246,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, August 16, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/NP22-DYSD.
  • 2 Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #223354246.”
  • 3“/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Searching for Posts That Contain ‘“my Fellow White”’ and in Ascending Order,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, accessed October 12, 2021, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/4VC6-QADU.
  • 4 Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #25602146,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, January 21, 2014, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/8CQC-Y55G; “Fellow White People / Aren’t You Jewish?” Know Your Meme, accessed October 12, 2021, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/MAP3-FCUY.
  • 530 Rock Official, How Do You Do Fellow Kids? | 30 Rock (YouTube, 2018), archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/8YVE-5YJL.
  • 6“How Do You Do, Fellow Kids?,” Know Your Meme, accessed October 12, 2021, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/JXN7-7WFA.
  • 7 Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #223778371,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, August 20, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/TSZ8-RRN3; Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #223369891,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, August 16, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/8X8Z-736R.
  • 8Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #223778371,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, August 20, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/ZFG9-YL6A.
  • 9 Anonymous, “/Pol/- Politically Incorrect » Thread #223354246.”

Figure 1: A 4chan user posting the original campaign planning thread for “Operation My Fellow Jews” on /pol/, which includes a screenshot presumably depicting the user’s own sockpuppet Twitter account, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/NP22-DYSD. Credit: TaSC.

While most /pol/ threads only receive about 40 replies on average, according to a 2016 study,1 the initial “Operation My Fellow Jews” thread garnered 348 replies in under four hours. Over the next day, the campaign instructions were reposted to /pol/ 3 more times, accumulating 864 total replies,2 most of them expressing enthusiasm and approval. 

“This is brilliant,” wrote one anon on Aug. 16 at 4:30 p.m..3 “Why didn't we think of this before?,” asked another.4

In their replies, several anons alluded to previous media manipulation campaigns that had also originated on 4chan. For example, one commenter described “Operation My Fellow Jews” as the “Best thing on pol since iotbw,”5 referring to the viral slogan “It’s ok to be white,” a 2017 campaign to normalize white nationalist rhetoric

Anons participating in “Operation My Fellow Jews” traded digital tools on the thread for making their fake Twitter accounts seem more authentic, including recommending apps and websites that allow the user to generate convincing AI-generated profile images,6 untraceable phone numbers,7 and burner email addresses.8

  • 1Gabriel Emile Hine et al., “Kek, Cucks, and God Emperor Trump: A Measurement Study of 4chan’s Politically Incorrect Forum and Its Effects on the Web,” ArXiv:1610.03452 [Physics], October 1, 2017, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/JG6Z-KU7N.
  • 2“/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Searching for Posts That Contain ‘“fake Jewish Profiles”’ and That Are Only OP Posts and Posts after 2019-08-16 and Posts before 2019-08-18.,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, accessed October 12, 2021, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/7R4K-BVAU.
  • 3 ​​Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #223354246,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, August 16, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/VQ4B-QP6A.
  • 4Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #223354246,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, August 16, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/JDU3-6VNF.
  • 5 Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #223354246,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, August 16, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/436K-N8SK.
  • 6 Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #223354246,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, August 16, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/2924-FDND.
  • 7 Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #223354246,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, August 16, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/E22Y-4REP.
  • 8 Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #223354246,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, August 16, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/6JUF-TLU2.

STAGE 2: Seeding Campaign Across Social Platforms and Web

Beginning on Aug. 16, 2019, campaign participants began creating fake Twitter accounts, many of them posing as rabbis and using stereotypically Jewish names.1

TaSC researchers have identified 37 fraudulent accounts created around the time of the campaign via internet archive searches, news coverage, and screenshots of the accounts published by anons and Twitter users. Because many of the Twitter profiles associated with this campaign (along with all of their tweets, retweets, and replies) have since been deleted, however, it is impossible to determine exactly how many fake profiles were associated with the campaign.

The 37 imposter accounts identified by TaSC tweeted racist,2 sexist,3 and anti-Israel sentiments4 and reinforced antistemitic stereotypes.5 For example, one user, posting as “Adam Greenblatt,” tweeted on Aug. 16: “Israel is an illegitimate state. It was formed through terrorism and the overwhelming of the native Palestinian populations by European Jews migrating there after WW2.”6

  • 1 @BergsteinRabbi, “Profile / Twitter,” Twitter, accessed October 12, 2021, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/853H-BC3A; @AdelbergChaim, “Profile / Twitter,” Twitter, accessed October 12, 2021, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/K2HP-GQ4L; @DavidGoldberg29, “Profile / Twitter,” Twitter, accessed October 12, 2021, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/AKT3-QJA2; @BenSilverstein5, “Profile / Twitter,” Twitter, accessed October 12, 2021, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/8RR4-AYHS.
  • 2 “(((Rabbi David Goldberg))) (@RabbiDavidGold1),” Twitter, accessed via archive.is, August 17, 2019, http://archive.is/thyO1.
  • 3“Dr. Yoshi Horowitz” (@stevenorodd), “@4YrsToday As a Jewish Man, I Stand Strongly against the 19th Amendment. One Only Has to Look at the Devastation That This Has Wrought upon Western Civilization. It’s a No Brainer.,” Twitter, accessed via TweetSave, May 21, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/8ZDH-6WTV.
  • 4 Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #223369891,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, August 16, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/X9UK-VTCK.
  • 5 Yair Rosenberg (@Yair_Rosenberg), “4. You Might Think These Nazis Impersonating Jews Are Comical. After All, How Such Bad Must Their Real Lives Be That They Spend Their Time Online Pretending to Be Jewish? But Jews Are Just 2% of the US Population & Most Folks Have Never Met One, so Can Be Easily Fooled by Trolls. Https://T.Co/TIRu5XPy21,” Twitter, August 19, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/GB2R-H5EC; Yair Rosenberg (@Yair_Rosenberg), “2. After the Call Went out on 4chan, a Network of New Twitter Accounts Run by White Supremacists Pretending to Be Jews Popped up. Often, They Masquerade as Orthodox Jews, Israelis and/or Jewish Leftists. They All Follow Each Other and Promote Anti-Semitic and Anti-Israel Content. Https://T.Co/RA2cFBm8jW,” Twitter, August 19, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/5MXS-JY63.
  • 6 Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #223369891.”

Figure 2: A campaign participant posting on Twitter as “Adam Greenblatt,” accessed via archive.4plebs.org, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/27W3-DM77. Credit: Anonymous 4chan user.

Many also made self-aggrandizing statements about Jews, apparently to create the illusion that Jewish people see themselves as superior to others.1 A fake account using the name “Rabbi David Goldberg” tweeted on Aug. 17: “Just a reminder that we Jews are G_d's Chosen people. We are vastly superior to all other people groups. To think anything else would be antisemitic.”2

  • 1 “(((Rabbi David Goldberg)))” (@RabbiDavidGold1), “Just a Reminder That We Jews Are G_d’s Chosen People. We Are Vastly Superior to All Other People Groups. To Think Anything Else Would Be Antisemitic,” Twitter, accessed via archive.is, August 17, 2019, http://archive.is/thyO1.
  • 2 “(((Rabbi David Goldberg)))” (@RabbiDavidGold1), “Just a Reminder That We Jews Are G_d’s Chosen People. We Are Vastly Superior to All Other People Groups. To Think Anything Else Would Be Antisemitic.”

Figure 3: A campaign participant posting on Twitter as “Rabbi David Goldberg,” a archive.is. Credit: TaSC.

Meanwhile, on /pol/, several campaign participants posted screenshots of their fake Twitter profiles,1 and encouraged others to follow them or interact with their tweets.2 Generally, these sockpuppet accounts didn't earn very many followers (typically less than 50), and did not garner many interactions outside of their own network of campaign participants, according to Twitter archives and screenshots posted on Twitter and 4chan.3 Because the accounts associated with this campaign have now been deleted or removed from Twitter, however, there is no way to know exactly how many likes or retweets they may have accumulated.

Although the 4chan user who initiated the butterfly attack had instructed participants to create fake accounts on Facebook as well as Twitter, no campaign participants shared screenshots of any Facebook accounts in the threads related to the campaign. At the time of publication, TaSC researchers were unable to confirm any Facebook or Instagram accounts related to this campaign.

  • 1 Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #223369891”; Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #223369891,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, August 16, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/F9UD-MH7V; Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #223354246,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, August 16, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/MU6F-CFZR.
  • 2 Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #223882770,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, August 21, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/6B9W-239K; Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #223480442,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, August 17, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/EX8W-WU3R.
  • 3 “(((Rabbi David Goldberg))) (@RabbiDavidGold1),” Twitter, accessed via archive.is; Atlee Solomon (@SolomonAtlee), “That’s Because This ‘Adam Greenblatt’ Is a Fake Account. His Profile Picture Is a Screenshot from a YouTube Video and the Guy’s Real Name Is Josh Goldberg. JVP Just Got Owned. Report the Account @AdamGreenblatt2 Source: Https://Youtu.Be/Sy99zxVH9Dw Cc: @TwitterSupport @Twitter Https://T.Co/JuwvqDjade,” Tweet, Twitter, August 19, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/HHK2-6FLS; Yair Rosenberg (@Yair_Rosenberg), “1. Three Days Ago on 4chan, a Popular Post Called for a ‘Massive Movement of Fake Jewish Profiles on Facebook, Twitter Etc’: Https://T.Co/LYEmsIhdYg,” Twitter, August 19, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/8Y74-79W7; “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Searching for Posts That Contain ‘“fake Jewish Profiles”’ and Posts before 2019-08-27,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, accessed October 12, 2021, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/AUS2-GAVX.

STAGE 3: Responses by Industry, Activists, Politicians, and Journalists

Although previous 4chan trolling incidents have inspired substantial attention on social media and even partisan media coverage at times, “Operation My Fellow Jews” participants did not succeed in engaging a significant number of Twitter users before being exposed as imposters. 

Replies to several of the now-deleted tweets posted by the fake accounts do suggest, however, that some Twitter users were initially fooled by the sockpuppets, and sometimes offended by what they were posting. For example, in response to a now-deleted tweet by a sockpuppet account that presumably contained a racial epithet or some other offensive language, Twitter user @rayyy wrote, “I'm literally not going to argue with you but the term is offensive no matter how u mean it, have some common courtesy.”1

One fake account, @AdamGreenblatt2, successfully baited the Jewish author and antiracism activist Tim Jacob Wise into a brief Twitter spat on Aug. 18 about Wise’s stance as a self-described “anti-Zionist.” It ended with Wise calling the imposter an “asshole.”2

  • 1prada prince (@rayyy), “@stevenorodd I’m Literally Not Going to Argue with You but the Term Is Offensive No Matter How u Mean It, Have Some Common Courtesy.,” Twitter, January 3, 2014, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/87NU-3RU4.
  • 2Tim Wise (@timjacobwise), “Google Me Asshole...I’ve Written Several Pieces over the Years on It. I Am an Anti-Zionist Jew and Have Been for My Entire Adult Life...,” Twitter, August 18, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/4779-FNUK.

STAGE 4: Mitigation efforts 

Three days after “Operation My Fellow Jews” began, on Aug. 19, 2019, Twitter users began to recognize that the sockpuppet accounts were fraudulent. One Twitter user who took interest in the campaign, a biotech entrepreneur Atlee Solomon, posted a lengthy thread on Aug. 19 revealing that many of the profile pictures used by campaign operators were stock photos or images stolen from news stories.1

Yair Rosenberg, a reporter for Tablet magazine who has covered antisemitism and butterfly attacks on Twitter in the past,2 was among the first journalists to bring attention to the campaign. In an Aug. 19 Twitter thread about the antisemitic butterfly attack, he traced its origins to 4chan.3

  • 1Atlee Solomon (@SolomonAtlee), “That’s Because This ‘Adam Greenblatt’ Is a Fake Account. His Profile Picture Is a Screenshot from a YouTube Video and the Guy’s Real Name Is Josh Goldberg. JVP Just Got Owned. Report the Account @AdamGreenblatt2 Source: Https://Youtu.Be/Sy99zxVH9Dw Cc: @TwitterSupport @Twitter Https://T.Co/JuwvqDjade,” Twitter, August 19, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/PUT8-GA5B.
  • 2Yair Rosenberg, “((( How Twitter Is Teaming Up to Mess with the Nazis ))),” Tablet Magazine, June 3, 2016, https://archive.is/uXZfUok perfect; Yair Rosenberg, “How Imposter Buster, a Twitter Bot, Is Besting the Social Media Site’s Anti-Semites,” Tablet Magazine, December 15, 2016, archived on archive.is, https://archive.ph/RBOqO.
  • 3 Yair Rosenberg (@Yair_Rosenberg), “1. Three Days Ago on 4chan, a Popular Post Called for a ‘Massive Movement of Fake Jewish Profiles on Facebook, Twitter Etc’: Https://T.Co/LYEmsIhdYg.”

Figure 3: Tablet reporter Yair Rosenberg tweeting about the “fake Jewish profiles” and their 4chan origins, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/8Y74-79W7. Credit: TaSC.

Around this same time, some Twitter users attributed the fake accounts to an anti-Zionism organization called Jewish Voice for Peace,1 which the Anti-Defamation League has called “radical anti-Israel organization."2 TaSC researchers did not find any evidence to support this claim, and several of those users walked it back after Rosenberg attributed the campaign to /pol/.3

Meanwhile, on the day of the campaign’s launch, Twitter began suspending the sockpuppet accounts for violating the platform’s Terms of Service,4 which prohibit the impersonation of “a person, brand, or organization in a confusing or deceptive manner.”5 The earliest known account suspension was that of a user posting under the name “Erick Ehrenreich,” who claimed their account was only active for 10 minutes on Aug. 16 before being taken down by Twitter.6 Another anon, posting on Twitter as “Danielle Borowitz,” also reported that their account had been removed on Aug. 16.7

Many campaign participants posted on 4chan about their fake profiles being taken down,8 and in some cases, asked for feedback on how they could make future profiles look more authentic.9

Representatives at Twitter told NBC reporters that by September 3—just over two weeks after the antisemitic campaign’s launch—“many” of the accounts associated with the campaign had been suspended, although they did not specify exactly how many.10 As of Sept., 2021, TaSC researchers have not identified any remaining Twitter accounts associated with and created around the time of this campaign.

The campaign began to receive critical media exposure on Aug. 20. Columbus Jewish News,11 along with Israeli news outlet Haaretz,12 were the first outlets to cover the fake accounts. Both attributed the coordinated attack to 4chan. The Jerusalem Post13 and Slate14 followed suit on Aug. 21.

A New York Times opinion piece related to the campaign ran on Aug. 22, and the story was covered by NBC roughly two weeks later on Sept. 3.15

  • 1 Elder of Ziyon 🇮🇱(@elderofziyon), “Looks like @JVPLive Has Started a Whole Bunch of Fake Twitter Accounts of Fake Jews. Looking at Fake ‘Orthodox Jew’ @adamgreenblatt2’s Followers, a Lot Just Joined Twitter a Few Days Ago. Check Them out and See How Fake They All Are. JVP Is Despicable. Https://T.Co/ASwr8hbAXb,” Twitter, August 19, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/6T2U-TTDP; Alex Ryvchin (@AlexRyvchin), “JVP Running Fake Jewish Twitter Accounts Is a Further Reminder of How Close Ultra-Right and Ultra-Left Antisemitism Are.,” Twitter, August 20, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/XJ58-64HU; Atlee Solomon (@SolomonAtlee), “That’s Because This ‘Adam Greenblatt’ Is a Fake Account. His Profile Picture Is a Screenshot from a YouTube Video and the Guy’s Real Name Is Josh Goldberg. JVP Just Got Owned. Report the Account @AdamGreenblatt2 Source: Https://Youtu.Be/Sy99zxVH9Dw Cc: @TwitterSupport @Twitter Https://T.Co/JuwvqDjade”; (((David Lange))) (@Israellycool), “.@jvplive Member/Supporter @bengurwit, Folks Https://T.Co/B8GxiyagyA,” Twitter, August 21, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/UR5P-AWJA.
  • 2 “Jewish Voice for Peace,” Anti-Defamation League, accessed October 12, 2021, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/UY88-38GE.
  • 3 Elder of Ziyon 🇮🇱(@elderofziyon), “@jvplive @AdamGreenblatt2 This Screenshot from an Antisemitic Group Seems to Explain This Better than Saying It Is JVP. Https://T.Co/T9U1AHvBE6,” Twitter, August 19, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/AG49-5U8B; Atlee Solomon (@SolomonAtlee), “13. Here’s the Link to the 4chan Thread. This Is Likely What Is Responsible for These Accounts. Https://Boards.4chan.Org/Pol/Thread/223369891/Operation-My-Fellow-Jew-Continued @jack @Twitter @TwitterSupport,” Twitter, August 19, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/7KBY-R5D5.
  • 4Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #223354246,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, August 16, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/6HG2-PQDW.
  • 5“Twitter’s Impersonation Policy | Twitter Help,” Twitter Help Center, accessed October 12, 2021, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/WA4L-6PWN.
  • 6Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #223843073,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, August 21, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/UBQ7-NTTL.
  • 7Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #223354246,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, August 16, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/8DZT-HMAX.
  • 8 Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #223778371,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, August 20, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/9CX3-4KJP; Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #223882770,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, August 21, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/F4QB-TXG9.
  • 9Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #223843073,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, August 21, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/V9F4-WWZS.
  • 10​Jareen Imam, “4chan Trolls Impersonate Jewish People on Social Media to Spread Hate,” NBC News, September 3, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/T9B6-RFUE.
  • 11Josefin Dolsten, “Fake Twitter Accounts Are Impersonating Jews and Promoting Anti-Semitism,” Cleveland Jewish News, August 20, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/Z3YC-4THB.
  • 12Allison Kaplan Sommer, “Fake Jewish Profiles Flood Twitter in Anti-Semitic Campaign to ‘subvert Jews,’” Haaretz.com, August 20, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/D729-A82D.
  • 13Josefin Dolsten, “Fake Twitter Accounts Are Impersonating Jews and Promoting Antisemitism,” The Jerusalem Post, August 21, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/SF3X-PXSG.
  • 14Rachelle Hampton, “4chan Trolls Impersonated Jewish Twitter Users. Again,” Slate, August 21, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/G9VC-T2DK.
  • 15Jareen Imam, “4chan Trolls Impersonate Jewish People on Social Media to Spread Hate.”

STAGE 5: Adjustments by campaign operators

Campaign participants continued to repost the campaign instructions on /pol/ between Aug. 17 and 27,1 referring to the the campaign by new, increasingly antisemitic names such as “Operation Shapeshift”2 or “Operation Shapeshift General | Diminish The Yiddish Edition.”3

In a final repost of the instructions, posted on Aug. 27, 2019, an anonymous user remarked, “This is a long term psy op that the real Jews can't win,”4 referring to the military term “psychological operations,” or psychological warfare.

Nevertheless, the campaign waned in the final week of Aug. 2019, as several participants deleted their newly minted sockpuppet accounts,5 and Twitter continued to suspend those who remained.

Several months after the launch of “Operation My Fellow Jews,” CNN reported that a 4chan user pretending to be a Jewish woman on Twitter went viral for using racial slurs and harassing Black Twitter users.6 Although this user’s modus operandi was very similar to that of “Operation My Fellow Jews,” CNN noted that the fraudulent account in question, @EGoldschmidt20,7 had been created on Jan. 1.8 This suggests it was not directly affiliated with “Operation My Fellow Jews.” 

On Aug. 18, 2020—nearly one year to the day after the initial campaign began—another 4chan user attempted to adapt the antisemitic campaign in order to target Black people, writing, “We have already had operation my fellow jews. Why not my fellow blacks? The goal is to get them to move back to the homeland.”9

Although a full-fledged butterfly attack had been launched on a very similar premise three years prior in 2016, this particular attempt at campaign adjustment apparently did not resonate: The post only received 23 replies,10 and no associated inauthentic Twitter accounts have been identified, demonstrating the unpredictable nature of 4chan’s troll community.

  • 1“/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Searching for Posts That Contain ‘“fake Jewish Profiles”’ and Posts before 2019-08-27.”
  • 2Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #223765945,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, August 20, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/V684-M6N9.
  • 3Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #223882770,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, August 21, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/SY6K-QCJN.
  • 4Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #224383553,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, August 25, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/9NWZ-YT23.
  • 5kweansmom (@kweansmom), “I Think They’re Self-Deleting. Twitter Isn’t Doing Anything. Https://T.Co/UGZUmVQ6gU,” Twitter, August 19, 2019, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/6NT8-4FLR.
  • 6Donie O’Sullivan, “A Fake Twitter Account Stirred Tensions between Jews and African Americans. Trolls Celebrated,” CNN, January 2, 2020, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/TF77-2Q8B.
  • 7@EGoldschmidt20, “Profile / Twitter,” Twitter, accessed October 12, 2021, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/5XUB-44CK.
  • 8Donie O’Sullivan, “A Fake Twitter Account Stirred Tensions between Jews and African Americans. Trolls Celebrated.”
  • 9Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #273142692,” 4chan, accessed via archive.4plebs.org, August 18, 2020, archived on Perma.cc, https://perma.cc/ZPX5-2VUF.
  • 10Anonymous, “/Pol/ - Politically Incorrect » Thread #273142692.”

Cite this case study

Kaylee Fagan, "“Operation My Fellow Jews:” 4chan’s Campaign to Spread Antisemitism on Twitter," The Media Manipulation Case Book, November 17, 2021, https://mediamanipulation.org/case-studies/operation-my-fellow-jews-4chans-campaign-spread-antisemitism-twitter.