Hate speech dramatically surges on Twitter following Elon Musk takeover, new research shows

Washington D.C
CNN Business

The new Twitter owner, Elon Musk, announced last month that the “impression of hate speech” on the platform has dropped significantly since he took over.

It’s a remarkable statement, given that Musk has conducted mass layoffs and fired hundreds of employees, draining the company’s much-needed resources to enforce content moderation policies, which billions of This billionaire has also publicly criticized.

On Friday, two watchdog groups published research showing that Musk’s claims simply don’t hold up, providing one of the clearest pictures to date of the rising tide of hate speech. increase on this platform.

Both the Center against Digital Hate and the Anti-Defamation League said in reports that the amount of hate speech on Twitter has increased significantly under Musk’s stewardship.

Specifically, the Center against Digital Hate says daily n-word usage under Musk is three times higher than the 2022 average, and the use of slurs against gays and lesbians. transgender increased by 58% and 62%, respectively.

And the Anti-Defamation League said in a separate report that its data shows “both an increase in anti-Semitic content on the platform and a decrease in censorship of Jewish posts”.

Both groups expressed alarm at what they were seeing happening on Twitter, one of the most influential media platforms in the world. The Anti-Defamation League described the deteriorating situation as a “troublesome situation” that “could likely get worse, as Twitter’s content moderators have reportedly been cut back.”

The reports come just hours after Kanye West’s Twitter account was suspended after he posted an altered image of the Star of David with a swastika inside and appeared on Alex’s Infowars Jones, where he praises Hitler.

Imrad Ahmed, executive director of the Center against Digital Hate, said that Musk “sends a sudden signal to every kind of racist, misogynist and homophobic that Twitter is open” business and they have responded accordingly.”

“A safe space for hate is a hostile environment for most decent people,” Ahmed added, “by comparison, who wants to sit in a coffee shop or pub where crazy people shouting obscenities and bigotry, let alone having the chutzpah to claim that it’s democratically necessary debate?

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday morning.

On Friday afternoon, Musk answered to a New York Times article about the research by tweeting “totally untrue” without specifying which aspect of the report he objected to. He then repeat his claim that “hate speech impressions,” or the number of times a tweet containing hate speech has been viewed, “continues to decrease” since his early days of owning the company when the platform saw a spike in hate speech designed to test Musk’s tolerance.

However, the CCDH and ADL study purported to point to a different phenomenon, highlighting the frequency and prevalence of hate speech across the platform as a whole.

Musk said that in the future, Twitter will share its data on hate speech impressions weekly.

Musk has repeatedly said he wants to repeal many of the content moderation policies that were in place before he took over the company and has signaled that he only wants speech banned when it incites violence or violates the law. .

The billionaire has rescinded Twitter’s previous Covid misinformation rules and said he plans a “general amnesty” for people who were previously banned for violating Twitter’s rules.

The Anti-Defamation League said: “These changes have influenced the rise of hate on Twitter, and the return of extremists of all kinds to the platform is likely to further increase the spread of the virus. of extremist content and misinformation”. “This could also lead to increased user harassment.”

– Brian Fung of CNN contributed to this report.


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