“Sorry for turning Twitter from nurturing paradise into place that has … trolls,” Twitter owner Elon Musk tweeted, mocking a BBC report on the rise of trolling and hate speech in post-Musk Twitter. He followed this up with “(real article from organization calling itself bbc),” downplaying the report.
The report, which was written by BBC disinformation and social media correspondent Mariana Spring, is a teaser for the BBC Panorama documentary on the topic. Spring gathered information from academic data and current and former Twitter employees.
“The company is no longer able to protect users from trolling, state-co-ordinated disinformation and child sexual exploitation, following lay-offs and changes under owner Elon Musk,” Spring wrote.
Spring’s investigation found that since Musk’s $43-billion takeover in late October, child sexual exploitation is increasing and not being sufficiently raised with law enforcement, and targeted harassment campaigns aimed at curbing freedom of expression and foreign influence operations — once removed daily — are going “undetected.” There has been a 69% increase in new accounts following misogynistic and abusive profiles, and rape survivors have been targeted by accounts that have become more active since the takeover, with indications they’ve been reinstated or newly created.
The findings are contrary to Musk’s earlier claim that hate speech impressions have been lower. But he also gutted teams that monitored human rights and hate speech, fired contractors in charge of content moderation, as well as the content design team, which specialized in creating features that protect users from hate.
Musk also reinstated suspended accounts associated with promoting misogyny and hate, such as Andrew Tate’s. Tate, who’s currently in police custody in Romania, instigated a feud with 19-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg just shortly after his account was restored. The feud brought in a surge of hate toward Thunberg, but also helped lead to Tate’s arrest.
Twitter’s new owner has always had a contentious relationship with the mainstream media, and has many times described Twitter as the “de facto town hall,” a center for crowdsourced (read: unvetted) information. Musk has also cut off links to the media by dissolving Twitter’s public relations department as he did with Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA).
Musk, responding to like-minded followers, shrugged off the report.
Information for this briefing was found via BBC, Fortune, Twitter, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.