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Hate speech is on the rise on Twitter under Elon Musk, reports show

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Elon Musk claimed last week that “hate speech impressions” on Twitter had dropped by a third since he took over the company.

But the overall amount of hate speech on the platform has increased over that same period, according to research from the Center for Countering Digital Hate.

Before Musk took over, an average of 1,282 tweets defaming black people appeared on Twitter every day; that number rose to 3,876 after he bought the company. In the week of Musk’s tweet, it increased even further to an average of 4,650 tweets per day.

Swear words against trans people have increased 62 percent since Musk bought Twitter

Slurs against transgender people have increased 62 percent since Musk bought Twitter, averaging 5,117 tweets per day, the report found. The data was collected using Brandwatch, a social media analytics tool, and includes tweets from around the world in English.

In a tweet in mid-November, Musk said said hateful tweets would be “max. deboosted and demonetized” so that users wouldn’t see the content unless they went looking for it. But even as opinions drop, the CCDH report shows that involvement in hate speech has increased since Musk took over the company. The average number of likes, replies and retweets to defaming posts was 13.3 in the weeks leading up to Musk’s Twitter 2.0. Since the acquisition, the average engagement on hateful content has risen to 49.5, according to the report.

“Elon Musk sent the bat signal to every sort of racist, misogynist and homophobe that Twitter was open for business, and they have responded accordingly,” CCDH CEO Imran Ahmed said in an email.

Since Musk took over from Twitter in late October, Musk’s changes to the platform have been erratic and reactive. Musk has dismantled the trust and security teams responsible for moderation, even amid concerns from civil rights advocates and groups about how hateful content could flourish on Twitter. He also set up (and left) a “content moderation board,” which was eventually followed by Twitter polls asking users whether banned accounts should receive “general amnesty.” Musk also tweeted that Donald Trump is welcome to return to the platform after being suspended for inciting violence.

At least some hateful content is being removed: On Thursday, Kanye West, now known as Ye, was suspended from Twitter for sharing an image of a swastika in a Star of David. Musk tweeted that the suspension was for violating rules around “incitement to violence”.

The edge reached out to Twitter for comment and will update if the company responds. Musk effectively dismantled the press department through layoffs in November.


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