Hate speech surged on Twitter during first week under Musk’s ownership: report

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Hate speech surged during the first week of Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s ownership of Twitter, according to a new report released by the Center for Countering Digital Hate.

Social media analytics tool Brandwatch documented that during the week of Oct. 31, the social media platform saw significantly higher numbers of slurs referring to people in the Black, Jewish and LGBT communities, among others.

Uses of a slur to describe Black people tripled the 2022 average on the platform during the first week of Musk’s leadership.

A slur describing transgender people increased by 53 percent, a slur to describe gay people increased by 39 percent and a slur to describe Jewish people increased by 23 percent compared to their 2022 averages on the platform.

Together, the four offensive terms were used nearly 85,000 times, not counting additional slurs counted by Brandwatch that referred to women and Latinos.

Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, said the company had “reduced impressions” on hateful content as of Wednesday.

“Update on our efforts to combat hateful conduct: We’ve not only mitigated the recent surge in harmful behavior, but have reduced impressions on this content in Search by ~95% relative to even prior baseline levels,” wrote Roth, who resigned from Twitter on Thursday.

Roth previously updated Twitter users on Oct. 31, stating that the company had removed more than 1,500 accounts posting hateful content and reduced impressions on the content to “nearly zero.”

“Our primary success measure for content moderation is impressions: how many times harmful content is seen by our users,” explained Roth.

The report comes amid several struggles for Twitter since Musk took over. The company has laid off about half its staff amid claims from Musk that Twitter is hemorrhaging money.

The social media platform also suspended its Twitter Blue sign-ups, which charged users $7.99 per month for blue verification check marks next to their handles, after the company continuously encountered impersonation issues.

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