Twitter posts including racial, homophobic and transphobic hate speech have increased since Elon Musk took over the social media giant in late October, according to an internet watchdog group.
Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League reports that antisemitic posts on the platform also are on the rise under Musk.
What You Need To Know
- Twitter posts including racial, homophobic and transphobic hate speech have increased since Elon Musk took over the social media giant in late October, according to an internet watchdog group
- Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League reports that antisemitic posts on the platform also are on the rise under Musk
- Musk said Friday hate speech impressions accounts "hate speech impressions are <0.1% of what’s seen on Twitter!" and shared his own numbers show hate speech on the decline.
In a report released Friday, the Center for Countering Digital Hate said that since Musk has purchased Twitter, there have been nearly 3,900 posts a day that include a slur against Black people — more than triple the 2022 average of 1,282. Tweets using a slur against gay people rose 58%, from 2,506 to 3,964 a day, and posts that included a transgender slur jumped by 62%, from 3,159 to 5,117.
There was also a 33% increase in posts using a disparaging term about women, according to the report.
Separately, the Anti-Defamation League said Friday that it found there was a 61% spike in antisemitic tweets referencing “Jews” or “Judaism” — excluding retweets — in the two weeks following Musk’s takeover compared to the two weeks prior. Last month, the group also reported that Twitter has taken action on about half the number of antisemitic posts as before.
Musk purchased Twitter because, he said, he wanted to protect free speech on the platform, which he’s described as a “digital town square.”
He has reiterated that vow since closing on the $44 billion sale, but also has said he won’t allow Twitter to “become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences!”
Musk has described Twitter’s new policy as “freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach,” saying hate tweets will be “max deboosted & demonetized. … You won’t find the tweets unless you specifically seek it out.”
But early Friday morning, Twitter suspended the account of Ye — the rapper formerly known as Kanye West — for posting an altered image of the Star of David with a swastika inside. Musk said Ye “again violated our rule against incitement to violence.”
On Nov. 23, the new Twitter boss shared his own data showing hate speech impressions initially spiked after his takeover but have since fallen to one-third of the pre-spike level.
The CCDH, however, disputes those numbers. And it says the engagement with Twitter posts that include hate speech is greater under Musk, too. The CCDH said the number of replies, retweets and likes on tweets using the slurs against Black, gay and trans people are 273% higher under Musk compared to the two weeks before he bought Twitter.
And posts promoting hate toward LGBTQ+ people had wide reach in the wake of last month’s mass shooting at the gay nightclub Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado, being viewed tens of millions of times, the CCDH said.
Some posts claimed Club Q was “grooming” children, including one tweet that was viewed 10 million times alone. Another post with a photo of transgender person and disparaging caption was made by a user whom Twitter had previously banned but was reinstated under Musk, the report said.
“Elon Musk sent up the batsignal to every kind of racist, misogynist and homophobe that Twitter was open for business, and they have react [sic] accordingly,” Imran Ahmed, the Center for Countering Digital Hate’s CEO, said in a statement to Twitter.
“A safe space for hate is a hostile environment to most decent folks,” he added.
The CCDH’s analysis relies on data from the social media analytics tools Brandwatch, which includes tweets, retweets and quote retweets, and Social Blade.
The Anti-Defamation League, meanwhile, criticized Twitter’s new policy that allows anyone to receive a blue “verified” checkmark if they pay $8 month. The checkmark, the ADL said, “means extremists can adopt a degree of legitimacy.” It listed several accounts connected to white nationalism, anti-LGBTQ speech or misogyny that have taken advantage of the new policy.
Twitter did not immediately respond to an email from Spectrum News seeking comment Friday.
Musk tweeted Friday, “There are about 500M tweets per day & billions of impressions, so hate speech impressions are <0.1% of what’s seen on Twitter!”
He also again shared a graphic showing a decline in hate speech impressions, but it lacked any supporting data.