A sharp rise in problematic content after being taken over by Elon Musk

According to several NGOs, racist, homophobic, misogynistic and anti-Semitic messages on the social network have increased “shockingly” over the past month.

The rise of hate messages on Twitter since Elon Musk took over the social network in late October. This is the observation of several NGOs, including the Center Against Digital Hate, whose findings are detailed in an article by the US Center Against Digital Hate. New York Times. So insults against black Americans appeared on the platform an average of 1,282 times a day, compared to 3,876 times a day before the billionaire bought it. For gay people, the number rose from 2,506 times a day to 3,964, while anti-Semitic posts rose by 61% in the two weeks after the seizure.

Growth associated with Elon Musk’s changes

The numbers are relatively small, but researchers say the increases are atypically high. For them, it is associated with the changes made by Elon Musk on Twitter. They said they had never seen such a rise 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 indeed reinstated the accounts of Donald Trump and others banned for hate speech. He is also a “general amnesty” to many other suspended accounts.

“Elon Musk has sent a bat signal to racists, misogynists and homophobes of all kinds that Twitter is open for business”– said Imran Ahmed, director general of the Center for Combating Digital Hate. “They reacted accordingly”, he added. This was seen last week with Kanye West. His account was suspended due to “incitement to violence”, the rapper posted a picture of a swastika intertwined with the Star of David. He returned to the social network in November after his account was banned for allegedly anti-Semitic comments.

A social network monitored by the European Union

The 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 promotion may come. The question then becomes whether the boss will implement policies to combat this problematic content, and whether Twitter will have enough staff to provide moderation. The billionaire actually fired half of his 7,500 employees upon his arrival and then issued an ultimatum, which resulted in more than 1,200 employees resigning. These individuals include Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of security, and others who fight harassment, foreign interference and misinformation on the platform. Elon Musk, who considers the researchers’ conclusions to be false, assured that the number of times hate speech tweets are seen by users “continues to decline”.

These statements come at a time when the social network is closely monitored by the European Union. Like other platforms, it will have to comply with the Digital Services Act, a recently enacted law that aims to provide a safer digital environment for users. During a videoconference exchange with Elon Musk last week, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, explained to him that he was left. “There’s still a lot of work to be done”. Twitter will oblige “significantly strengthen content moderation, protect freedom of expression and fight misinformation decisively”, he also said according to their exchange account. Thierry Breton plans to move to Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco in early 2023. “stress test” about the company’s ability to regulate content and fight misinformation.

During his state visit to the USA, Emmanuel Macron also spoke with Elon Musk last week. shows on Twitter that they had clear and frank discussion”. “Transparent terms of use, significant strengthening of content moderation and protection of freedom of expression: Twitter must strive to comply with European rules”the president wrote on his Twitter account after this meeting.

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