Hate Speech Skyrocketed On Twitter After Musk's Buyout
Before Elon Musk bought Twitter, slurs against Black Americans showed up on the social media service an average of 1,282 times a day. After the billionaire became Twitter’s owner, they jumped to 3,876 times a day, Sheera Frenkel and Kate Conger reported for The New York Times.
Photo Insert: While the numbers are relatively small, researchers said the increases were atypically high. The shift in speech is just the tip of a set of changes on the service under Musk.
Slurs against gay men appeared on Twitter 2,506 times a day on average before Mr. Musk took over. Afterward, their use rose to 3,964 times a day. And antisemitic posts referring to Jews or Judaism soared more than 61 percent in the two weeks after Musk acquired the site.
“Elon Musk sent up the Bat Signal to every kind of racist, misogynist and homophobe that Twitter was open for business,” said Imran Ahmed, the chief executive of the Center for Countering Digital Hate. “They have reacted accordingly.”
These findings — from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the Anti-Defamation League and other groups that study online platforms — provide the most comprehensive picture to date of how conversations on Twitter have changed since Musk completed his $44 billion deal for the company in late October.
While the numbers are relatively small, researchers said the increases were atypically high. The shift in speech is just the tip of a set of changes on the service under Musk.
Accounts that Twitter used to regularly remove — such as those that identify as part of the Islamic State, which were banned after the US government classified ISIS as a terror group — have come roaring back.
Accounts associated with QAnon, a vast far-right conspiracy theory, have paid for and received verified status on Twitter, giving them a sheen of legitimacy.
These changes are alarming, researchers said, adding that they had never seen such a sharp increase in hate speech, problematic content and formerly banned accounts in such a short period on a mainstream social media platform.