Researchers have found that the rise in hate speech on Twitter has never been greater under new owner Elon Musk on the social media platform.
The ugly and menacing talk has increased as Musk allowed extremists back on Twitter while restricting moderation and monitoring of content.
Before Musk bought the company, slurs against Black Americans surfaced an average of 1,282 times a day on Twitter. After Musk’s purchase, insults rose to triple that number, or 3,876 times a day, according to a study released Friday by London’s Center for Countering Digital Hate, the Anti-Defamation League and other groups that monitor online platforms.
Insults against gay men appeared on Twitter an average of 2,506 times a day before Musk took power. After that, they jumped 3,964 times a day, according to the data, the New York Times reported.
Antisemitic posts rose more than 61% in the two weeks after Musk took over the site, researchers found. Not only has there been an increase in content attacking Jews and Judaism on Twitter, there has also been a significant decrease in the moderation of anti-Semitic posts, the ADL found.
Musk last month allowed tweets from Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, whose account was suspended in October for posting anti-Semitic messages, on Twitter again. Musk suspended Ye’s account again on Thursday after he posted an image of a swastika intertwined with a Star of David.
It was unclear if the anti-Semitic rapper’s exile was permanent, even after he announced on Thursday’s Alex Jones podcast that he “likes Hitler” and “loves Nazis.”
Musk on Thursday night allowed what may be America’s most notorious neo-Nazi back on Twitter after being banned for nearly a decade. Andrew Anglin was the founder of The Daily Stormer, an influential neo-Nazi website named after a Nazi propaganda paper. His anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and racist hate speech are considered so dangerous that courts have sentenced him to pay his victims millions.
Anglin — who said in 2018 that he “hates women” and believes they “deserve to be beaten, raped and locked in cages” — vowed in a statement to abide by all Twitter Rules, if not quite it is clear what they are.
Musk’s Twitter recommendations on Friday urged users to follow Anglin.
Researchers find the dramatic changes on Twitter alarming as they enable and encourage extremists to express their hatred.
“Elon Musk sent out the bat-signal to every kind of racist, misogynist and homophobe that Twitter is open for business,” Imran Ahmed, founder and CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, told the Times. “You have responded accordingly.”
A “safe space for hate is a hostile environment for most decent people,” he added. “Who wants to sit in a café or a pub where lunatics shout expletives and bigotry, let alone have the chutzpah to claim it was a democratically necessary debate?”
Musk has insisted hate speech has declined from its peak when he took over, but has done so no data presented to support this statement. He replied on Twitter that the new research “totally wrong‘ but again couldn’t provide any hard numbers.
Ahmed said Musk had “misled users and advertisers,” and he urged advertisers to “stop their marketing dollars to enable the spread of deadly hate.”