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Analysis indicates that hate speech on Twitter grows despite what Elon Musk said

hate speech on twitter
Photo: Daniel Oberhaus (2018), Wikimedia Commons

Despite the fact that Elon Musk assured that hate speech on Twitter fell below its previous norms, an analysis of data from a non-profit organization showed that, far from reducing, messages with hate speech have grown in recent weeks. racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic, among many others.

The analysis of the data from the social network analysis tool of the Brandwatch organization of the Center for Countering Digital Hate ?CCDH? shows that the week Musk claimed hate speech dropped "below our previous norms" saw an increase in the amount of hate speech being tweeted. 

Brandwatch counts retweets and cites retweets in these numbers. Faced with criticism over a recent spike in hate speech on Twitter, Elon Musk stated that Twitter's "strong commitment to content moderation remains absolutely unchanged."

The nonprofit organization that seeks to counter hate and misinformation by disrupting the online architecture that enables its rapid global growth, noted that in the week beginning Oct. 31, the first full week under Musk's ownership, there were :

  • 26,228 tweets and retweets mentioning the n**ger slur, triple the 2022 average
  • 33,926 tweets and retweets mentioning the insult tra**y, 53 percent more than the 2022 average
  • 21,903 tweets and retweets mentioning the insult fa**ot, 39 percent more than the 2022 average
  • 2,598 tweets and retweets mentioning the insult k*ke, 23 percent more than the 2022 average
  • 1,256 tweets and retweets mentioning the insult w*g, 62 percent more than the 2022 average
  • 935 tweets and retweets mentioning the sp*c slur, 67 percent more than the 2022 average

In this sense, he explained that the figures show that, despite the affirmations of the head of Trust and Security of Twitter, Yoel Roth, that the platform had managed to reduce the number of times hate speech was seen on the page of search and Twitter trends, the actual volume of hate tweets has skyrocketed.

Elon Musk's full tweet reads: "Again, to be very clear, Twitter's strong commitment to content moderation remains absolutely unchanged. In fact, we've seen hate speech at times this week fall *below* our previous standards, contrary to what you may read in the press."

Roth, claimed that the platform was able to reduce the number of times hate speech was seen on Twitter's search and trends page.

CCDH noted that the data was collected using Brandwatch, which includes original tweets, retweets, and quote retweets, and that while the analyzed tweets came from all over the world, they were restricted to the English language.

“We cannot allow the hard progress we have made over years to hold Twitter accountable for the hate and misinformation on its platform to slip away. Everything is in jeopardy if the new CEO of Twitter receives his bonfire of moderation and hate speech policies," the organization said in a statement.

He added that CCHR will continue to scrutinize Twitter and its new ownership changes to make sure the platform does not become a safe space for hate and abuse.

This publication was supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library.

You may be interested in: Santa Clara district attorney quits Twitter over hate speech and calls on others to do so

Pamela Cruz
Pamela Cruz
Editor-in-Chief of Peninsula 360 Press. A communicologist by profession, but a journalist and writer by conviction, with more than 10 years of media experience. Specialized in medical and scientific journalism at Harvard and winner of the International Visitors Leadership Program scholarship from the U.S. government.

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