Watchdogs: Hate Speech Has Never Risen So Fast on Twitter

Antisemitic posts climbed 61% in Musk's first 2 weeks
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2022 2:43 PM CST
Hate Speech Is Way Up on Twitter Under Musk: Research
A Twitter logo hangs outside the company's San Francisco offices on Nov. 1.   (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

Hate speech is increasing on Twitter at a rate never seen before, online watchdog groups said Friday. The dramatic change has taken place since Elon Musk took over the platform in late October, the New York Times reports, despite his claims to the contrary. The use of slurs against gay men rose 58%, 62% for trans people. The n-word has been posted three times as often under Musk as earlier in 2022, per CNN. Antisemitic posts climbed 61% in the first two weeks of Musk's reign. The research was conducted by the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the Anti-Defamation League, and other groups.

While the totals are relatively low, the increases are unusually steep, researchers said. The situation "will likely get worse, given the reported cuts to Twitter's content moderation staff," the Anti-Defamation League said. Another organization tied the increase directly to the new owner, who announced in November he was reinstating suspended accounts. "Elon Musk sent up the Bat Signal to every kind of racist, misogynist, and homophobe that Twitter was open for business," said Imran Ahmed, chief executive of the Center for Countering Digital Hate. "They have reacted accordingly." Twitter did not immediately comment Friday.

The researchers said the issue goes beyond slurs. Those accounts that Twitter used to remove are back in full, including those that identify themselves as part of the Islamic State. QAnon accounts have paid to receive verified status, making them appear legitimate, per the Times. Twitter also has stopped trying to prevent the spread of misinformation about COVID-19. Last month, Musk posted a graphic he said showed hate speech on the site has dropped by one-third on his watch. The researchers said Friday that's not what they're seeing. (Musk has booted Kanye West off Twitter.)

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