Here’s Proof Hate Speech Is More Viral On Elon Musk’s Twitter

These data could add to the challenges Musk faces as he tries to turn around the company, which he has saddled with debt. Advertisers provide the majority of Twitter’s revenue, but some have said in recent weeks that they will reduce or pause spending until they get more information about any changes to the platform’s content policies. “Advertisers can’t put their money into platforms where comprehensive hate speech and misinformation policies don’t exist or are consistently enforced,” says Lou Paskalis, a longtime advertising executive who previously served as president of MMA Global. , a marketing business group.

The Tufts analysis does not indicate whether the increase in hate speech is due to specific changes Musk made after he acquired Twitter for $44 million last month. Although he initially claimed that company policies would not change, he also laid off thousands of employees and contractors, reducing the resources Twitter could bring to bear to control content. In some countries where the platform is popular, such as Brazil, activists and researchers who track disinformation say there is no longer anyone on Twitter to respond to their warnings and requests.

Musk has also consistently said he wanted more “free speech” on the platform, in comments seen to encourage more aggressive and right-wing tweets. In addition to restoring Trump’s account last weekend, he also unbanned right-wing troll Jordan Peterson; the conservative satire Babylon Bee; and Kanye West, who was banned from making anti-Semitic comments. After Musk took control of Twitter, Yoel Roth, then the company’s head of trust and safety, said the platform had made progress in mitigating the rise in hate tweets, removing 1,500 accounts and reducing their visibility. publications.

Jiore Craig, head of digital integrity at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a nonprofit that tracks extremism and disinformation, says a rise in hate speech on Twitter is concerning because while the platform is small in comparison With other social networks, it has an outsized ability to shape the public conversation, due to its popularity among journalists and politicians and the way the media uses tweets as a proxy for public opinion. “Most of [Musk’s] the decisions so far are very reckless, but the social media threat landscape has been at a fever pitch for a while,” she says.

Libby Hemphill, associate director of the Center for Social Media Responsibility at the University of Michigan, says the worsening situation on Twitter comes at a dangerous time, with hate crimes like the shooting at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado this weekend. “We’re seeing an increase in violence, whether it’s verbal or physical,” says Ella Hemphill.

Hemphill says Musk’s stated goal of allowing more free speech on Twitter does not reflect his actions and ignores the real risks of allowing hate speech to flourish. “Presenting this as a free speech issue is disingenuous,” she says. “And talking can be dangerous.”

Roth, the moderation executive who claimed Twitter had achieved a surge in hate under Musk’s control, resigned from the company a day after tweeting about that job, citing Musk’s capricious leadership. In an op-ed in The New York Times, Roth said that “Twitter whose policies are defined by edict has little need for a trust and safety function.”

Twitter, which no longer has a communications staff after recent layoffs, did not respond to a request for comment.