Elon Musk

Hate Speech on Twitter Jumps 500% in First 12 Hours of Elon Musk Takeover: Report

The data did not specify the terms, only saying they were vulgar and hostile towards race, religion, and ethnicity

NBC Universal, Inc.

New data shows a drastic rise in hate speech on Twitter, just hours after it was officially acquired by billionaire and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

“The immediate increase appears to be around 500%,” said Dr. Bond Benton about the percentage increase in hate speech in the first hours of Musk taking over. 

He is a professor at Montclair University in New Jersey and recently co-authored a white paper claiming that in the first 12 hours of Musk taking over as CEO of the company, in which he tweeted “Free the bird,” a range of hate speech terms skyrocketed on the site. 

The data did not specify the terms, only saying they were vulgar and hostile towards race, religion, and ethnicity.

Benton believes the Tesla-turned- Twitter CEO’s stances on free speech and calls for less moderation on the site are appealing to groups with those views.

“They really treat him as sort of the standard bearer that’s going to allow them to say potentially racist, offensive, awful things without fear of being de-platformed,” said Benton. 

Musk tweeted there’s been no changes to Twitter’s moderation policies and that he’s forming a “moderation council” with differing viewpoints.

Twitter’s head of safety also addressed the issue in a series of tweets, saying hateful conduct has no place on the site and that the tweets were coming from a small number of inauthentic accounts that Twitter plans to ban.

“I don’t think any moderation standards is going to solve this problem,” said Nolan Higdon, Cal State East Bay professor.

Higdon’s area of focus is news literacy in the digital age and thinks instead of looking for tech companies to solve the hate speech problem, there needs to be more education on the topic in classrooms.

“That means a more diverse and inclusive view of history, I think it means more news literacy and I think it means more media literacy in general,” said Higdon.

But Benton believes it is up to Twitter to play a role in preventing hate speech from becoming the norm.

“The next step will ultimately be up to Twitter,” he said. “Are we going to say that this is completely unexpectable, will they take a hard line to ensure that content doesn’t get purchased in this space?”

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