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Jackson Hinkle brings anger against Israel to prominence| GuyWhoKnowsThings

Jackson Hinkle has cultivated an online persona so incendiary that he's been banned from YouTube, Twitch, and Instagram.

He remains furious, undaunted, even full of energy. Produces a regular podcast on Rumble, a website popular with many prominent conservatives. He writes dozens of posts a day on X, where his followers have grown from 417,000 to 2.5 million in the six months since October 7, the day Hamas fighters launched their attack on Israel.

Along the way, he employed false or misleading content, promoted doctored images, and made comments that watchdog organizations have denounced as anti-Semitic. He calls himself an American patriot even as he praises his adversaries, including Vladimir V. Putin, Xi Jinping and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“LIKE IT if you support IRAN against ISRAELI TERRORISM!” he wrote last week in X after an Israeli airstrike in Syria killed several Iranian military officers. A day later, he addressed Houthi leaders in Yemen by video and praised the group for its attacks on maritime transport in the Red Sea.

All of this has made Hinkle an online celebrity at age 24, a symbol of the modern Internet's Generation Z: a ​​place where authenticity is no longer a necessity and outrage offers attention and even some financial reward.

“It was a blessing for me at the time,” he said in an interview about his rise in popularity in X amid the war in Gaza. “I was very lucky”.

His sudden rise may be due to more than just good luck.

Two Israeli research firms specializing in online threats, and which have focused on what they consider disinformation related to the war in Gaza, said they have identified coordinated and possibly state-sponsored networks of bots or inauthentic accounts that are amplifying the Hinkle's provocative concoction. Political Views. Porcelain, Russia and other foreign actors are known to use such tactics to achieve their geopolitical goals, including efforts to influence this fall's presidential election.

Hinkle has also benefited from changes made by X owner Elon Musk, including canceling policies that once limited toxic content. With the addition of a premium subscription feature, he now charges certain followers $3 a month for what he calls “extra cool stuff,” including behind-the-scenes videos and “random thoughts.” X allows him to pocket up to 97 percent of the proceeds: money that Hinkle has told subscribers helps him “continue exposing the Deep State.”

Imran Ahmed, director of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a research organization, said Hinkle was part of “a kind of new group of people exploiting algorithms' insatiable desire for highly controversial content to benefit financially.”

in a new reportThe center documented a staggering increase in followers on 10 prominent X accounts that spread anti-Semitic content since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas.

Mr. Hinkle was on top, by far.

“It's kind of a sick industry of creators and platforms profiting from the feud,” Ahmed said, “the way people react to hate is kind of a car accident.”

Hinkle, for his part, seems to enjoy being the center of attention.

To illustrate a post about the Gaza conflict, he used a stylized caricature of himself dressed in military gear and holding a rifle facing a ball of fire. His profile on X and other platforms includes a doctored image of his bloodied face surrounded by a ring of guns.

Hinkle solicits donations and sells merchandise to support his “independent journalism” on platforms like Patreon, which have already been banned from PayPal and Venmo.

In the interview, Hinkle emphasized that he did not accept any payments from foreign governments, but spoke unapologetically about his support for (and from) often hostile foreign powers. He visited Russia and China this year at the invitation of organizations close to the governments, dined with Russia's foreign minister and appeared on state-controlled television networks.

“I think they appreciate support wherever they can get it,” he said.

From an early age, Hinkle understood that enthusiastic support for a cause could attract public attention. He grew up in San Clemente, Southern California, as a surfer who heavily promoted his own embrace of environmental activism, gun control measures and progressive politics.

As a teenager, he helped start an environmental cleanup organization and another to encourage young people to run for political office. teen fashion he recognized it as a prominent young environmentalist; Reader's Digest included him on a list of inspiring children. He posed in a instagram photo with actor Will Smith, whose son Jaden Smith Worked with Mr. Hinkle to limit plastic water bottles in schools.

Perry Meade, a progressive organizer who worked with Hinkle on campaigns as a teenager, said his “general understanding of Jackson was that he always wanted to be famous,” adding: Sure, he cared about things, but he came first.

His activities soon became political. At his high school graduation in 2018, He knelt during the national anthem. in protest against police brutality and racial injustice. He twice ran unsuccessfully for San Clemente City Council, when he was 19 and 20 years old. A local conservative blog called it “an extreme left ideologist”.

He said in the interview that, after his political defeats, “I decided to continue addressing the issues that mattered to me, but on the national stage.”

Hinkle found that stage on YouTube, where one of his greatest achievements, he says, was an interview with Tulsi GabbardDemocratic presidential candidate in 2020. At its peak, his channel reached 300,000 subscribers.

Like Mrs. Gabbard, who once joined him surfing, their views have changed. The Sierra Club, one of the world's largest environmental organizations, included Mr. Hinkle in a video to get the vote filmed in 2018. In 2022, he was on social media describing environmentalism as “anti human.”

Today he says he is a Stalinist and a Maoist who was expelled from the Communist Party of the United States. (Roberta Wood, party leader in Chicago, said he subscribed to the newsletter but that he had never joined the party and it did not reflect his values.) He once supported Bernie Sanders, but now praises Donald Trump.

He is he wrote last year, an “American PATRIOT, GOD-fearing, Pro-FAMILY, Marxist-Leninist, Pro-PALESTINE, RUSSIA AND CHINA, Anti-DEEP STATE, Anti-IMPERIALIST, Anti-WOKE, Pro-GROWTH, ANTI-MONOPOLY, Pro -WEAPONS, PRO FOSSIL FUEL”.

As Hinkle focused on international affairs, his audience grew. He supported authoritarian leaders like Bashar al-Assad from Syria, whom he called “hero.” When Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in 2022, it accepted Putin's justification for the conflict.

Hinkle has become a “merchant of anger,” said Pekka Kallioniemi, who researches social media and misinformation at the University of Tampere in Finland.

“The way he goes from one thing to another seems very opportunistic to me,” Kallioniemi said.

He drew the attention of critics for frequently spreading Russian propaganda about Ukraine, including disinformation linked to covert Kremlin campaigns. Her affection for Russia was also personal.

He traveled there for the first time in September 2023 with Anna Linnikova, a model crowned Miss Russia in 2022. For a time, they were engaged to be married. Mr. Hinkle posted a photography of the couple posing in front of Moscow's Red Square last year and said they were move to miami together. (By late 2023, they appeared to have bitterly separated.)

He recently visited Russia again to attend a conference organized by Konstantin Malofeyev and Alexander Dugin, both prominent nationalists who face sanctions in the United States. He said that he had been drawn to Dugin's writings, which glorify Russian culture, as an antidote to corrupt values ​​in the West.

YouTube suspended his channel in October for “repeated violations” of the company's policy against denying or trivializing major violent events, including the war in Ukraine, according to a company spokesperson.

However, it was only when Hamas invaded Israel that month – when Hinkle began posting constantly about criticism of Israel and Russian support for the Palestinians – that his X account reached stratospheric heights.

Several organized networks of inauthentic accounts amplified their posts, according to Next diman Israeli company that studies inauthentic online activities and which previously found evidence of an effort to amplify pro-Beijing messages in X.

One of the organized networks had previously promoted unrelated content (in Chinese) that criticized the Japanese government for publishing radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in August, researchers found. Once the fighting in Gaza began, the same network, which had at least 20,000 accounts, began reposting Hinkle's content.

Another Israeli research company, Cyabra, found that Hinkle's account gained 1.2 million followers during the first 19 days of the war. A sample of 12,510 of them suggested that about 40 percent were fakes.

In the interview, Hinkle downplayed findings of inauthentic support for his account. “There will always be bots on social media,” she said. She acknowledged that she had made mistakes in some posts, but said they were unintentional and argued that the scale of Israel's retaliation in Gaza vindicated his view of the conflict.

“I think if we're going to focus on people posting false information, a bad photo on Twitter is not the most important thing compared to the lies that are used to sell a war,” he said.

Losing his YouTube subscribers, he said, had cost him three-quarters of his salary. He suggested that he had recovered the loss from his activities in X, mainly through subscribers. “I guess I'm fine,” she said.

He declined to say how much his posts earned or how many paying subscribers he had. In October, he noted that he had earned $550 the previous month thanks to income was limited because his publications were too controversial for some advertisers.

Mr. Hinkle spoke with admiration of Tucker Carlsonthe former Fox News host who has sold pro-russian narrativesand Candace Owens, a conservative commentator who left The Daily Wire website last month. Hinkle, who said he turned down a job offer from a foreign media outlet that he declined to disclose, compared himself to Carlson and Owens: “We are all independent, not by choice.”

“You know, of course, I would be happy if there was any media outlet in the United States that wanted to hire someone like me,” he said, “but our values ​​don't align, so I don't think that's in my future.”

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