Soon after Elon Musk completed his takeover of Twitter, slurs and racist memes flooded the platform, sparking concern that hateful speech might come to dominate the micro-blogging site. Twitter has been trying to enforce content policies fairly to balance what their advertisers want, the world leaders expect and its users’ needs.
Bloomberg said that as per an analysis, dozens of anonymous trolls signed up for Twitter in the past day. They reportedly brought up topics such as levying hate speech against protected groups and promoting falsehoods about Covid-19 and its vaccines.
On Thursday afternoon, a racist slur was at a low volume on Twitter, with around a dozen mentions every five minutes, according to data from Dataminr, a social media analysis platform. After news about Musk’s takeover broke, there was a 1,300 per cent increase in the word appearing on the platform in various languages, including Spanish, Arabic and Portuguese. At its peak, the word appeared 170 times every five minutes, according to the data.
Some conservative officials, partisan extremists and conspiracy peddlers celebrated Musk’s takeover of the company believing that there would freedom of speech now. Several US politicians also tweeted their happiness over the matter.
An expert told Bloomberg that for a lot of these people saying hateful things helps them increase their audience and make money. This is how they gain more followers.
Musk pledged in a letter Thursday that Twitter will not spiral into a “free-for-all hellscape” under his leadership. He has always been against Twitter’s enforcement strategies, that include banning some accounts permanently. However, he now faces an immense challenge of letting users speak freely, while maintaining the integrity of the public platform.
The billionaire owner received a barrage of requests from users with banned accounts and international leaders a few hours after the takeover. He has committed to forming a content moderation council and a decision on reversing life bans has been put on hold.
(With inputs from agencies)