Elon Musk claimed last week in a tweet that “hate speech impressions” on Twitter had dropped by a third since he took over the company in late October.
According to the British non-profit organization, the average tweet containing insults against blacks was 1,282 tweets per day before Musk took over Twitter, but the number rose to 3,876 after the completion of the acquisition deal on October 28. During the week Musk posted his tweet, that number increased to 4,650 tweets per day.
The Center for Countering Digital Hate, founded in 2018, collected data using Brandwatch, a social media analytics tool, including English-language tweets from around the world.
In a tweet published in mid-November, Musk said that hateful tweets will be minimized and prevented from earning money, and users will only see them if they search for them.
Even with Twitter’s promises to reduce the visibility of these tweets, the Center for Countering Digital Hate found that interaction with hate speech has been on the rise since Musk took over the management of the company, and he said that the average number of likes, responses, and retweets for posts containing insults was about 13.3 before the deal was completed. After that, engagement with those tweets rose to 49.5.
“Elon Musk sent a call signal to every type of racism, misogyny, homophobia that Twitter has made available to them, and they have responded accordingly,” said Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate.
Since completing Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of Twitter, the billionaire, who also heads electric car maker Tesla and aerospace industries company SpaceX, has made drastic and rapid changes to the platform.
Among the changes is that he fired the trust and safety team staff responsible for content moderation, even as concerns were raised by civil rights advocates and groups about how hateful content was rampant on Twitter.
He also abandoned the idea of creating a content moderation council to then decide to poll his followers, who now number 119.7 million, to issue a “general pardon” for all suspended accounts, and he posted a tweet welcoming former US President Donald Trump back to the platform after he was banned. In early 2021, he will be permanently banned for inciting violence.
But it seems that leniency is not for everyone, as Twitter on Friday suspended the account of American rapper Kanye West for “inciting violence” after he posted a picture of a swastika entwined with the Star of David and expressed his admiration for the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
“Just to clarify, his account was suspended because of his incitement to violence,” Musk said, commenting on West’s photo, which combined the Nazi and Judaic slogans. Noting that Musk lifted a previous ban on West’s account.