Use of N-word on Twitter jumped by almost 500% after Elon Musk's takeover as trolls test limits on free speech, report says

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  • Elon Musk's Twitter takeover sparked a surge in the use of the N-word on the social-media platform.

  • A social-media research group told The Washington Post the use of the slur increased by nearly 500%.

  • Musk said that Twitter will form a "content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints."

After the self-proclaimed "free speech absolutist" Elon Musk closed the $44 billion deal on Twitter, anonymous accounts set about testing the limits of the social-media platform's moderation policies, The Washington Post reported.

The Network Contagion Research Institute, a research group that analyzes social-media content to predict emerging threats, said that use of the N-word on Twitter increased by nearly 500% in the 12 hours immediately after Musk's deal was finalized.

The newspaper also noted that several online trolling accounts called on others to use racist language in the aftermath of the deal.

"Elon now controls twitter. Unleash the racial slurs. K---S AND N-----S," said one account, using slurs for Jewish and Black people, per the outlet.

"I can freely express how much I hate n-----s … now, thank you elon," another said, The Post reported.

The journalist David Leavitt also noticed an increase in accounts tweeting hate speech. He tweeted on Friday: "There's a massive flood of literally hundreds of people each minute using the N-word and rampant hate speech happening on Twitter right now post Elon purchase."

Twitter was also flooded with sexist and anti-LGBTQ messages, per The Post. Anonymous trolling accounts ran "tests" on Twitter's moderation policies by calling for the deadnaming of transgender people and the use of offensive terms, like "groomer," according to the report.

"Almost immediately I noticed an increase in anti-trans harassment, it's very visible," said Erin Reed, a trans activist and queer legislative researcher, per The Washington Post.

Some of the Twitter posts appear to have been organized on other platforms including 4chan, the NCRI said.

Alex Goldenberg, NCRI's lead intelligence analyst, told The Washington Post that "online trolls regularly test the limits of moderation." He added that the online trolls may be intending "to make as big a mess as possible for Twitter's new management."

Musk tweeted on Friday that Twitter will form a "content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints." He added that major decisions on moderation won't be made until the council meets.

Nonetheless, conservative figures have celebrated the deal, suggesting that Twitter's new ownership will loosen the rules on content moderation and strengthen free speech.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted "FREEDOM OF SPEECH!!!!" on Thursday evening. On the same day, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas tweeted that Musk's purchase of Twitter was "the most important development for Free Speech in decades."

In the hours preceding the deal being closed, accounts for far-right figures appeared to see a boost in followers. Accounts belonging to Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert and Arizona Rep. Kari Lake, for example, witnessed a surge in new followers in the 24 hours leading up to the deal being finalized, according to Memetica, a digital investigations company.

Thousands of new accounts were created during that period, The New York Times reported.

Memetica's CEO, Ben Decker, told the newspaper the accounts that gained thousands of followers "are really well-known purveyors of disinformation, harassment, and hate."

Read the original article on Business Insider