Hate speech is soaring on Twitter under Elon Musk, report finds

Elon Musk claimed last week that “hate speech impressions” on Twitter were down by one-third since he took over the company.

But the total amount of hate speech on the platform has risen during that same time period, according to research by the Center for Countering Digital Hate.

An average of 1,282 tweets with slurs against Black people appeared daily on Twitter before Musk took over; that number jumped to 3,876 after he bought the company. During the week of Musk’s tweet, it increased even further to 4,650 tweets a day on average.

Slurs against transgender people increased 62 percent since Musk bought Twitter

Slurs against transgender people increased 62 percent since Musk bought Twitter, to 5,117 tweets a day on average, the report found. The data was gathered using Brandwatch, a social media analytics tool, and include tweets from around the world in English.

In a tweet in mid-November, Musk said hateful tweets would be “max deboosted & demonetized” so that users wouldn’t see the content unless they went looking for it. But even if views are down, the CCDH report found engagement on hate speech is up since Musk took over the company. The average number of likes, replies, and retweets on posts with slurs was 13.3 in the weeks leading up to Musk’s Twitter 2.0. Since the takeover, average engagements on hateful content has jumped to 49.5, according to the report.

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

Since taking the helm of Twitter in late October, Musk’s changes to the platform have been erratic and reactive. Musk has gutted the trust and safety teams responsible for moderation, even amid concerns from civil rights advocates and groups over how hateful content could flourish on Twitter. He’s also pitched (and abandoned) a “content moderation council,” eventually following it up with Twitter polls asking users to weigh in on whether banned accounts should be given “general amnesty.” Musk has 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.”