Hate speech reportedly spiked on Twitter after Elon Musk’s takeover

A Twitter spokesperson blamed the spike on a "trolling campaign"

Hate speech reportedly spiked on Twitter following Elon Musk‘s recent takeover, according to a new study.

According to research from The Network Contagion Research Institute, instances of use of the N-word on Twitter increased by nearly 500 per cent within 12 hours of the tech mogul’s takeover.

“Evidence suggests that bad actors are trying to test the limits on Twitter. Several posts on 4chan encourage users to amplify derogatory slurs,” the institute wrote on Twitter, referring to the anonymous imageboard website.

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“For example, over the last 12 hours, the use of the n-word has increased nearly 500% from the previous average.”

There have also been spikes in the use of antisemitic, homophobic and transphobic terms.

Musk, who has previously described himself as a “free speech absolutist”, completed the $44billion acquisition of the social media company last week, concluding a long saga that began in April.

“The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important to the future of civilisation to have a common digital town square,” Musk wrote in a tweet to advertisers last week.

“That said, Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences! In addition to adhering to the laws of the land, our platform must be warm and welcoming to all.”

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Responding to the increased use of the N-word on the platform, Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of safety and integrity, posted on Saturday (October 30): “Bottom line up front: Twitter’s policies haven’t changed. Hateful conduct has no place here. And we’re taking steps to put a stop to an organised effort to make people think we have.

“Our Rules prohibit Hateful Conduct. This includes targeting people with dehumanizing content and slurs. This DOESN’T mean we have a list of words that are always banned. Context matters. For example, our policies are written to protect reclaimed speech.”

He continued: “Over the last 48 hours, we’ve seen a small number of accounts post a ton of Tweets that include slurs and other derogatory terms. To give you a sense of scale: More than 50,000 Tweets repeatedly using a particular slur came from just 300 accounts.

“Nearly all of these accounts are inauthentic. We’ve taken action to ban the users involved in this trolling campaign — and are going to continue working to address this in the days to come to make Twitter safe and welcoming for everyone.”

On the same day, Musk tweeted that “Twitter will be forming a content moderation council with widely diverse viewpoints. No major content decisions or account reinstatements will happen before that council convenes”.

He added: “To be super clear, we have not yet made any changes to Twitter’s content moderation policies”.

Following Musk’s takeover, news emerged that he was reportedly planning to make Twitter charge $20 (£17) per month for verification.

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