Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover sparked a surge in the use of the N-Word all in the name of “free speech”.
After 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 (NCRI), 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.
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.”
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 pic.twitter.com/uAqnZJuwjW
— David Leavitt (@David_Leavitt) October 28, 2022
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.
“Almost immediately I noticed an increase in anti-trans harassment, it’s very visible,” said @ErinInTheMorn
— Taylor Lorenz (@TaylorLorenz) October 29, 2022
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.
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.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 28, 2022
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, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted that Musk’s purchase of Twitter was “the most important development for Free Speech in decades.”
FREEDOM OF SPEECH!!!!
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene🇺🇸 (@RepMTG) October 28, 2022
The most important development for Free Speech in decades. https://t.co/AFY3SUIWYX
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) October 28, 2022
Twitter user Black Demographics posted a photo showing a photo of several Twitter accounts with offensive language and egregious hate speech.
Yeah it started the night of the announcement that the deal was closed. This is the new Twitter pic.twitter.com/ER9BdZs2Aa
— BLACK DEMOGRAPHICS (@AkiimDeShay) October 29, 2022
Even superstar LeBron James tweeted in response to the surge of hate speech in such a short period of time by tweeting: “I dont’ know Elon Musk and, tbh, I could care less who owns twitter. But I will say that if this is true, I hope he and his people take this very seriously because this is scary AF. So many damn unfit people saying hate speech is free speech.”
I dont know Elon Musk and, tbh, I could care less who owns twitter. But I will say that if this is true, I hope he and his people take this very seriously because this is scary AF. So many damn unfit people saying hate speech is free speech. https://t.co/Sy0jvXIBnC
— LeBron James (@KingJames) October 29, 2022
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