The use of hateful language on Twitter has increased significantly since Elon Musk took office, new research shows.
Mr Musk completed the $44 billion acquisition of the social networking platform in late October and quickly cut jobs About half of the company’s 8,000 employees.
Although trust and safety chief Yoel Roth said at the time that frontline auditors had experienced “minimal impact”, last week – resigning – he Says Twitter isn’t safe under Mr Musk.
On Friday, the US-based Center Against Digital Hate (CCDH) released a report examining the rise of hate language on the platform.
Its findings include:
• Daily use of the term “n****r” has tripled since Musk took office compared to the 2022 average
• Daily usage of “c***s” increased 33% over the same period
• Daily usage of “f****t” increased by 58%
• 62% increase in daily usage of “tr***y”
Just days earlier, Mr Musk congratulated the team on Twitter, saying “hate speech impressions” were “down a third from pre-surge levels”.
He also claimed on Nov. 18 that Twitter’s new policy is “free speech, but not touching,” adding: “Negative/hateful tweets will be minimized and demonetized, so no ads or other income.
“You’re not going to find this tweet unless you’re looking for it, no different than the rest of the internet.”
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But the CCDH report found that average engagement on tweets containing defamation also rose.
In the two weeks before Musk took office, the average number of replies, retweets and likes for tweets using “n****r”, “tr****y” or “f****t” was 13.3 , but after the acquisition, it jumped to 49.5 – an increase of 272%.
As a case study, the study examines anti-LGBTQ+ tweets following the Colorado Springs shooting that left five dead at an LGBTQ nightclub on November 19.
They focused on hateful “grooming” comments that they said were viewed tens of millions of times on Twitter in the aftermath of the shooting.
The 10 accounts most responsible for the rhetoric gained 222,709 followers per month in the three months before Mr Musk took over Twitter, a three-month average.
In the month since Musk took over, they gained a total of 944,205 followers — an increase of more than 320%.
It’s not the first time there have been concerns about how Musk’s leadership could change Twitter.
This Rollback Platform’s COVID Misinformation Policy Anti-vaccine is expected to be given more freedom, while he announced ‘Amnesty’ will allow return of those previously banned for violating Twitter rules.
These include white supremacists, misogynists and far-right conspiracy theorists.
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On Friday, Mr Musk appeared to be referring to the CCDH report when he tweeted: “Hate speech impressions – the number of times a tweet is viewed – continue to decline despite significant user growth.”
He promised to release the figures every week, adding: “Freedom of speech does not mean freedom of access.
“Negative emotions should and will be smaller than positive emotions.
“There are about 500 million tweets and billions of impressions a day, so hate speech impressions are less than 0.1% of what’s seen on Twitter.”