Hate Speech Has Reportedly Surged on Twitter Since Elon Musk's Takeover

Two watchdog groups racist and homophobic slurs spiked on the platform under Musk's leadership. The tech mogul called the report "utterly false."

Twitter account on Twitter is seen displayed on a phone screen

Image via Getty/Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto

Twitter account on Twitter is seen displayed on a phone screen

New studies have shed more light on Twitter’s hate speech issue.

It was just a week ago when Elon Musk claimed “hate speech impressions” on platform had fallen by one-third since his $44 billion takeover; however, multiple research groups found that the use of racial, homophobic, and anti-Semitic slurs drastically increased during that period.

The Center for Countering Digital Hate used the Brandwatch analytics tool to analyze changes in Twitter hate speech. According to the New York Times, the London non-profit determined that prior to Musk’s acquisition, there was a daily average of 1,282 tweets that contained slurs against Black people. That number has reportedly jumped to nearly 3,900 in the weeks since Musk purchased the company. 

CCDH also found that hateful tweets against gay men increased about 60 percent under Musk’s leadership, going from an average of 2,506 to 3,964 a day. Messages that included transgender slurs also jumped by 62 percent, going from 3,159 to 5,117 tweets a day.

The Anti-Defamation League released a separate report that found an increase of anti-Semitic content on Twitter. 

“This data suggests that in the two weeks following Musk’s Twitter takeover, the prevalence of tweets (excluding retweets) referencing ‘Jews’ or ‘Judaism’ with an antisemitic sentiment increased by 40.6%,” the ADL wrote. “Unsurprisingly, content moderation has gone downhill quickly since Elon took over @Twitter and gutted the Trust and Safety team. Content moderation matters. People and companies have limits on the hate speech they want to see on their feeds.”

Findings indicate a 61.3% increase in the volume of tweets (excluding retweets) referencing “Jews” or “Judaism” with an antisemitic sentiment in the two weeks following Musk's Twitter takeover, compared to the two weeks prior. pic.twitter.com/ZqaSD2ZgyR

— ADL (@ADL) November 18, 2022

Musk responded to the Times report via Twitter on Friday, saying the data was “utterly false.”

Utterly false

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 2, 2022

Hate speech impressions (# of times tweet was viewed) continue to decline, despite significant user growth!@TwitterSafety will publish data weekly.

Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom of reach. Negativity should & will get less reach than positivity. pic.twitter.com/36zl29rCSM

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 2, 2022

Prior to purchasing Twitter, Musk expressed frustration over the platform’s content moderation and the censorship of users. He confirmed his intentions to change the app into “an inclusive arena for free speech,” which sparked concerns about a potential rise in hateful content. The worries were fueled after Musk reinstated the accounts of controversial figures, including former President Donald Trump, Andrew Tate, Jordan Peterson, and Kanye West. (The latter was suspended this week after he posted an image of a swastika.)

“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 CCDH. “They have reacted accordingly.”

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