a sharp increase in problematic content since Elon Musk’s takeover

According to some NGOs, racist, homophobic, misogynistic and anti-Semitic messages have increased “shockingly” on the social network in a month.

An increase in hate messages on Twitter since Elon Musk took over the social network at the end of October. This is the observation made by several NGOs, including the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the conclusions of their research are detailed in an article by New York Times. Thus, insults against black Americans, which appeared on average 1,282 times a day on the platform before the billionaire took it over, now reach 3,876 times a day. For gay people, that number rose from 2,506 times a day to 3,964, while anti-Semitic posts rose 61% in the two weeks after the takeover.

An increase associated with changes by Elon Musk

The numbers are relatively small, but researchers say these increases are generally high. For them, it is linked to the changes made by Elon Musk on Twitter. They say they have never seen such an increase in hate speech, problematic content and previously banned accounts in such a short period of time on a traditional social network. The new owner of Twitter has actually restored the accounts of Donald Trump and other personalities banned for hate speech. He also gave a “general amnesty” with many other accounts suspended.

“Elon Musk sends a Bat Signal to all kinds of racists, misogynists and homophobes that Twitter is open for business”said Imran Ahmed, director general of the Center for Countering Digital Hate. “They reacted accordingly”, he added. Seen it last week with Kanye West. His account was suspended for “inciting violence”, where the rapper posted an image of a swastika intertwined with a Star of David. He returned to the social network in November after his account was restricted for posting comments deemed anti-Semitic.

A social network monitored by the European Union

Researchers note that the rise in hate speech and other problematic content began before Elon Musk relaxed Twitter’s rules. For them, this means that a new increase may be coming. The question arises whether the boss will put rules to deal with this problematic content, but also whether Twitter will have enough employees to ensure moderation. In fact, the billionaire fired half of the 7,500 employees upon his arrival and then issued an ultimatum following which more than 1,200 employees resigned. Those people include Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of security, and others who have worked to deal with harassment, foreign interference and misinformation on the platform. Describing the researchers’ conclusions as false, Elon Musk assured that the number of times users see tweets containing hateful words. “keep going down”.

These revelations come as the social network is closely monitored by the European Union. Like other platforms, it will need to comply with the Digital Services Act, a law that was recently implemented and aims to provide a safer digital environment for users. In a videoconference exchange with Elon Musk last week, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, explained to him that he had stayed. “Still a lot of work”. Twitter has to do “it is important to strengthen content moderation, protect freedom of expression and resolutely tackle disinformation”, he also said, according to an account of their exchange. Thierry Breton plans to travel to Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco in early 2023 to conduct a “stress test” on the company’s ability to moderate content and combat misinformation.

During a state visit to the United States, Emmanuel Macron also spoke with Elon Musk last week, suggests on Twitter that they have a clear and honest discussion”. “Clear terms of use, meaningful reinforcement of content moderation and protection of freedom of expression: Twitter must strive to comply with European regulations”tweeted the president following this meeting.

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