The number of Twitter messages containing racial slurs has exploded since Elon Musk bought the influential platform, according to a new study


Instances of racist slurs have increased on Twitter since Elon Musk bought the influential platform, despite assurances from the platform that it has clamped down on hate activity, a civil rights group reported Thursday. digital. Researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate found that the number of tweets containing any of a variety of racial slurs increased in the week following Musk’s Twitter takeover. Elon Musk has described himself as an absolutist of free speech, and is expected to overhaul Twitter’s content moderation policies.

The number of racist slurs has exploded on Twitter since Elon Musk bought the platform, despite assurances from the latter that it has curbed hateful activity, researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate reported Thursday. In total, the researchers looked at nearly 80,000 English-language tweets and retweets from around the world that contained one of the offending terms they were looking for. In the week beginning Oct. 31, the first full week under Musk, they found:

  • 26,228 tweets and retweets mentioning the n**ger slur, triple the average in 2022.
  • 33,926 tweets and retweets mentioning the tra**y slur, 53% more than the 2022 average.
  • 21,903 tweets and retweets mentioning the fa**ot slur, a 39% increase from the 2022 average.
  • 2,598 tweets and retweets mentioning the k*ke slur, a 23% increase from the 2022 average.
  • 1,256 tweets and retweets mentioning the w*g slur, a 62% increase from the 2022 average.
  • 935 tweets and retweets mentioning the sp*c expletive, up 67% from the 2022 average.

The numbers show that, despite the claims of Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, the platform has successfully reduced the number of times hate speech appears on the search page and trends of Twitter, the actual volume of hate tweets has increased, according to the analysis. by the center, a non-profit organization with offices in the US and UK.

Roth resigned on Thursday, joining a large number of Twitter employees who have resigned or been fired since Musk took over the company. A day before his departure, Roth acknowledged the recent increase in hate speech on the site, but said the platform had made significant progress in reducing the numbers. We have stopped the increase in hateful behavior, but the level of hateful activity in the service is about 95% lower than it was before the acquisition. “The changes we’ve made and the proactive enforcement we’ve put in place make Twitter safer than ever,” Roth said in remarks streamed on Twitter.

On October 31, Twitter announced that 1,500 accounts had been removed for posting hate speech. The company also said it has significantly reduced the visibility of posts containing insults, making them harder to find on the platform. “We’ve actually seen hate speech this week drop (asterisk) below (asterisk) our previous standards, contrary to what you might read in the press,” Musk tweeted last week.

Musk has described himself as an absolutist of free speech, and is expected to overhaul Twitter’s content moderation policies. While he said no changes have been made so far, Musk has made significant layoffs within the company, raising questions about his ability to proactively control misinformation and hate speech. Midterm elections on Tuesday.

It may take some time to accurately assess the platform’s performance in the election and to determine whether Twitter has adopted a different strategy for content that violates its policies, said Renee DiResta, director of research at the Stanford Internet Observatory. The civic integrity policy remained unchanged. Now, there’s a difference between having a policy and enforcing a policy,” DiResta said of Twitter under new ownership.

Shortly after Musk’s purchase of Twitter, some users posted hate speech, apparently to test the limits of the platform under its new ownership. In the 12 hours since Musk’s purchase was finalized, references to a particular racist slur used to denigrate blacks have increased by 500%, according to analysis conducted by the Network Contagion Research Institute, a in Princeton, New Jersey, which monitors disinformation.

Source: Center for Countering Digital Hate

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