Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter faced controversy immediately as the number of racist comments spiked exponentially, including the use of the N-word.
Racists and trolls flooded Twitter, the social media company, since the company was taken private by Musk on Friday, testing whether the CEO of Tesla would stand by his claim of being a “free speech absolutist.”
The number of trolls using the N-word on Twitter rose by 500% within 12 hours after the $44 billion deal was finalized, according to a report by the Network Contagion Research Institute, a group which researches social media content to determine threats that could materialize.
Accounts tweeting hate speech ranging from slurs against Black people to anti-Semitism surged immediately on Oct. 27, the day before the billionaire took over Twitter.
One Twitter user tweeted, “Elon now controls twitter. Unleash the racial slurs. K—S AND N—–S,” in reference to slurs against Jewish and Black people.
Another account tweeted this sentiment.
“I can freely express how much I hate n—–s … now, thank you elon.”
A small number of Twitter accounts are responsible for sending 50,000 tweets that include hate speech such as slurs and derogatory terms during the last 48 hours, said Yoel Roth, head of safety and integrity at Twitter on Oct. 29.
“To give you a sense of scale: More than 50,000 Tweets repeatedly using a particular slur came from just 300 accounts,” he tweeted.
Very few of the accounts tweeting the slurs are from ones written by real people and instead are “inauthentic,” said Roth, who leads the social media company’s policy and threat investigation teams, affirmed that the company’s policies remain the same.
“Hateful conduct has no place here,” he tweeted. “And we’re taking steps to put a stop to an organized effort to make people think we have.”
The number of accounts attacking people for their race, ethnicity and gender have surged, alarming many influential people, including Los Angeles Lakers basketball player LeBron James.
James, whose nickname is King James, commented about the attacks against Black people by stating, “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.”
The tech tycoon announced the creation of a council to review accounts that were banned in the aftermath of the attacks of Jan. 6, 2021 on Capitol Hill. Musk promised on Oct. 28 that decisions would not be made until after the council convenes.
Twitter permanently banned many public figures for violating this policy, including former President Donald Trump after the events.
Racist, anti-Semitic, bullying and hateful remarks are made constantly on social media networks, including Twitter. Disinformation had proliferated since fans of conspiracy theories propagate their theories.
Whether Twitter’s new boss who has deemed himself “Chief Twit” will reinstate Donald Trump and other banned accounts remains unknown.
Musk, who also leads the rocket company SpaceX, appears to be going against his own strategy of promising advertisers that the platform will not be a “free-for-all hellscape.” He made the promise just on Oct. 27, only three days ago.
But the world’s richest man has said many times that breaking the law is the only red line.
In response to the vicious and brutal attack against Paul Pelosi on Oct. 28, who is married to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Musk appears to be favoring allowing conspiracy theories to propagate.
Musk had previously stated the importance of having content moderated.
“Twitter obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences!” he wrote to advertisers on Oct. 27. “In addition to adhering to the laws of the land, our platform must be warm and welcoming to all, where you can choose your desired experience according to your preferences, just as you can choose, for example, to see movies or play video games ranging from all ages to mature.”