LOS ANGELES: Elon Musk kicked Kanye West off Twitter on Friday “for incitement to violence”, after the rapper posted a picture that appeared to show a swastika interlaced with a Star of David.
The post came hours after an interview with the American conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, in which West sparked outrage by declaring his “love” of Nazis and admiration for Adolf Hitler.
West had also shared a picture of a shirtless Musk getting sprayed with water, captioned: “Let’s always remember this as my final tweet.”
In response, Musk said: “Just clarifying that his account is being suspended for incitement to violence, not an unflattering pic of me.”
Musk, who previously called himself a “free speech absolutist”, has repeatedly said he believes all content permitted by law should be allowed on Twitter, and sought to remake the social media company after he took control in October.
In an hours-long appearance on Infowars, the show fronted by Jones, West — now known as Ye — wore a black mask completely covering his face, as he ranted about sin, pornography and the devil.
“I like Hitler,” West said several times.
West hid his face completely under a mask that had neither eye nor mouth slits.
However, Jones addressed him as West as they spoke, Infowars billed the interview as being with West, and at one point Jones took West’s mobile phone and posted a tweet on his account that appeared in real-time.
West, who has hinted he is running for US president in 2024, has spoken openly about his struggles with mental illness, but his erratic behavior has continued to raise concerns.
The businessman has seen his commercial relationships crumble after a series of anti-Semitic comments, as the one-time titan of fashion and music appears to have entered a disturbing spiral.
‘I love Nazis’
On Infowars, West drew shocked laughter and even disagreement from far-right host Jones.
“I see good things about Hitler also,” he told Jones.
“This guy … invented highways, invented the very microphone that I used as a musician, you can’t say out loud that this person ever did anything good, and I’m done with that.”
Hitler did not invent either of those things.
“I’m done with the classification, every human being has something of value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler.
“I like Hitler.”
Jones, a serial provocateur who was ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for claiming one of America’s deadliest school shootings was a “hoax”, interjected that “the Nazis were thugs and did really bad things”.
West did not back down.
“But they did good things too. We gotta stop dissing the Nazis all the time. … I love Nazis,” West said.
Hours after the interview, the social media platform Parler, a favourite of conservatives for its hands-off approach to moderation, said that a deal for West to buy the outfit was off.
“Parlement Technologies would like to confirm that the company has mutually agreed with Ye to terminate the intent of sale of Parler,” the network said on Twitter.
“This decision was made in the interest of both parties in mid-November.”
In October, the German sportswear giant Adidas severed its lucrative tie-up with West after the star made anti-Semitic statements, including threatening to “go death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE,” using a misspelled reference to the US military readiness status known as “def con”.
The Paris fashion house Balenciaga and the US clothing retailer Gap also ended ties with West, who appeared at a Paris fashion show wearing a shirt with the slogan “White Lives Matter”, a rebuke to the Black Lives Matter racial equality movement.
Dinner with Trump
West appeared on Infowars alongside Nick Fuentes, the same white supremacist with whom West had dinner last week at the florida estate of former president Donald Trump, in a meeting that provoked outrage.
Thursday’s livestream sparked immediate condemnation from the Republican Jewish Coalition, which dubbed the three men “a disgusting triumvirate of conspiracy theorists, Holocaust deniers, and anti-Semites”.
“Given his praise of Hitler, it can’t be overstated that Kanye West is a vile, repellent bigot who has targeted the Jewish community with threats and Nazi-style defamation,” a statement from the group said.
“Conservatives who have mistakenly indulged Kanye West must make it clear that he is a pariah. Enough is enough.”